In October, the UK Material Handling Association hosted their famous Archies, an awards ceremony recognising the latest and greatest within the industry. As well as sponsoring an award, Toyota Material Handling were proud to have had 4 nominations was for the prestigious Apprentice of the Year category - congratulations to Chris Bedingfield, Connor Millar, Oliver Wilton and Sam Cookson.
The good news didn't stop there as Sam went on to win first place and take the title of Apprentice of the Year. We caught up with Sam to understand more about how he got nominated and how Toyota has supported him throughout his apprenticeship.
How did the nomination process work?
The nomination process began when I was put forward by Gareth Ross to enter the competition along with 3 of my colleagues.
I had to take part in a practical task which involved finding and rectifying a fault on a counterbalance forklift truck. I had to go through step by step using the skills and processes that I have learned whilst being at the company and at college to diagnose the fault and begin to fix it.
Next I had to show the examiner how to examine and measure the stretch and wear on chains and forks using the correct tools and explaining what I was looking for.
Finally, I had to engage in a professional discussion where they asked me about my apprenticeship, how I got into the apprenticeship and how I wanted to progress. They also asked me how I would react in situations which may occur in the workplace such as trucks being stuck in the aisles.
How did an apprenticeship at Toyota help you?
An apprenticeship with Toyota really helped me as it has given me the knowledge and skills to ensure that I can perform under pressure.
I received a lot of support not only from my mentors at college but also in the workplace. They showed me how to systematically work through diagnosing faults and fixing them. Without them I definitely wouldn’t have been able to win Apprentice of the Year.
What's the best thing about doing an apprenticeship?
There are so many good things about doing an apprenticeship, not only do you get to practice and learn new skills whilst on the job, you also get paid to do it.
This appealed to me as I wanted to start earning money for myself however I also wanted to further my education, so an apprenticeship was the perfect option for me. The fact I was also able to secure an apprenticeship with a company so successful and recognised as Toyota was a huge bonus.
What does your career look like at Toyota?
As of now, I would like to finish my apprenticeship and gain some more experience as a Technician to refine my skills. Maybe in a few years I will see what opportunities arrive for me as there are so many paths to choose in order to further my career.
However, no matter which path I take, I would like to progress as far up in the company as possible.
And finally, what's your favourite piece of equipment to work on?
My favourite pieces of equipment to work on are gas counterbalances, I love working on engines and maintaining them.
I enjoy working on cars in my spare time so when a counterbalance comes in I really enjoy the challenge of diagnosing the faults and rectifying them just like I would do at home.