When Estelle Smith left school at 16, she was the only one of her social group to choose an apprenticeship and go into the world of work.

Estelle joined the internal sales department at leading Sheffield manufacturer Gripple where she is completing a four-year apprenticeship programme and is responsible for administering agricultural orders across Europe.

Her decision to move into the world of work has paid off. The Sheffield College business administration apprentice has now been shortlisted in the Make UK Manufacturing Awards.

Estelle, aged 21, is among the finalists from the North East, Yorkshire and Humber region of the Business Apprentice of the Year: Final Year category.

The award is for apprentices in their final year of their apprenticeship, working in engineering or manufacturing firms, who have made a significant contribution to supporting the business activities of their employers.  Award nominees also need to have done the most to seize the training and development opportunities presented to them throughout their apprenticeship programme and show demonstrable results.

Estelle said: “I feel really proud to have been nominated for the award. When I heard I was shortlisted, I couldn’t believe it. It is brilliant that my employer has recognised my hard work. To be shortlisted is a really big achievement for me. I am pleased to have got this far.”

She explained: “When I left school, I was unsure about what career path I wanted to go down. I decided to start working to gain experience. I also believed that it would help me get a better understanding of working life and help guide me into what job path I wanted to do. At the time, I was a bit wary to be the only one out of all my friends to go into work and not stay at school but I knew it was the right thing for me.”

Estelle added: “I applied for a job at Gripple as I had heard good things about how they looked after their employees and especially the opportunities they give to young people. I have now worked at Gripple for four years and through the apprentice programme have gained confidence, grown my knowledge which has developed me as an individual and enabled me to make an increasing contribution to my team.”

She continued: “Gripple is a company which encourages its staff to grow and develop. I have been earmarked for the next cohort of staff who will undertake the future leaders programme. This will expose me to all aspects of what is required to run a business.”

From her start at Gripple in 2016, Estelle has been an internal sales administrator for Gripple Europe and given a full-time contract. She gained NVQs at Level 2 and Level 3 and is now completing an NVQ Level 4 with ambitions to progress within the firm.

Kirsty Royston, Internal Sales Manager, Gripple, added: “Estelle always works very hard and has strengthened customer relationships to the highest level, both directly on the telephone and via email, ensuring that all concerned fully understand the processes involved.”

Steve Elliott, Vice Principal, Apprenticeships and Work Based Learning, The Sheffield College, said: “Congratulations to Estelle! It’s great to see one of our apprentices thriving and developing the skills that their employer needs and making a significant contribution to the success of a leading Sheffield company.”

Gripple is a world leading manufacturer that provide solutions to construction and agricultural markets and employs 800 people across 15 global locations with four manufacturing sites in Sheffield.

The company is also shortlisted in two of the regional Make UK Manufacturing Awards business categories – Developing Future Talent and Business Growth and Strategy. All the winners will be announced on October 13th 2020.

The Sheffield College is the largest provider of apprenticeships in the city and Sheffield City Region. Visit www.sheffcol.ac.uk or call 0114 2602600.