Lanarkshire engineer crowned Scottish apprentice of the year

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Coca-Cola Europacific East Kilbride’s first female engineer has been crowned Scotland’s Apprentice of the Year 2022 after achieving success as a modern apprentice.

Jennifer Kolonko has developed new and innovative solutions to engineering problems that reduce waste and champion diversity within the company.

In addition to the supreme title, Jennifer’s achievements earned her the Modern Apprentice SCQF Level 6+ category sponsored by the Young Person’s Guarantee at this year’s Scottish Apprenticeship Awards.



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Jennifer, from Hamilton, was crowned the country’s top apprentice at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards, which took place virtually on Wednesday March 9 to recognize the resilience and hard work of Foundation, Modern and Graduate apprentices.

They also shine a spotlight on employers, providers and people who champion apprenticeship.

Jennifer was announced the winner by TV presenter Jennifer Reoch and former Clyde 1 apprentice and DJ Jonny Campbell. Speaking on her win, Jennifer said: “It makes me very proud and I feel like I want to promote to other people to join apprenticeships.”

Sharon Blyfield, Head of Early Careers with the company, told Lanarkshire Live: “During her apprenticeship, Jennifer was instrumental in leading a project to improve mechanical efficiency at the site. of the Capri-Sun line.



Presenter Jennifer Reoch with Jennifer Kolonko

“She spotted an opportunity to reduce the number of jams.

“She designed and implemented a system guide to help her colleagues establish the fastest paths to resolving issues.

“It dramatically improved mechanical efficiency, reducing waste by 30% and producing up to 10% more product.”

Jennifer has also accompanied senior staff on an open day at the Scottish Parliament to promote the importance of learning across Scotland and acted as a Just Be Ambassador, an initiative which aims to improve inclusion and diversity in the workplace.

Sharon said: “As the first female engineer at the East Kilbride site, Jennifer is changing the narrative around engineering, an industry traditionally dominated by men.

“She is paving the way for future female engineers to follow in her footsteps as apprentices, volunteering to speak in schools and to youth in the community.”

Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Further Education, Further Education, Youth Employment and Training, said: “The Scottish Apprenticeship Awards are a fantastic way to celebrate the voices of apprentices and their employers across all the countries.

“Jennifer is a great example of how apprenticeships work for Scotland.”

Jennifer began her modern SCQF Level 6 apprenticeship with the world’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler in August 2017 and completed it in April 2021.

Her career has gone from strength to strength and she is now a senior technical operator on the Capri-Sun line and is in charge of two production lines.

Jennifer said: “My modern learning has given me the knowledge of how to do things right and better ways to solve problems which has improved my confidence a lot.

“Through apprenticeship, you work with experienced engineers and they pass on their knowledge to you.”

The Scottish Apprenticeship Awards took place during Scottish Apprenticeship Week from 7-11 March to demonstrate that apprenticeship works for people, employers and the Scottish economy.

Skills Development Scotland Chairman Frank Mitchell said: “When it comes to supporting sustainable skills through workforce development or providing opportunities for young people, we know that learning works.

“The combination of employer engagement and Scottish Government support will ensure that apprenticeships work for everyone, contributing significantly to Scotland’s recovery and productivity growth.”

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