A high-flying dairy apprentice who now plays a leading role in training a UK-wide team took two of the top honours at an apprenticeship awards ceremony held at Reaseheath College and University Centre in Cheshire.
Sharlene Harrison, Technical and Development Officer for Müller Milk & Ingredients, was crowned Outstanding Apprentice of the Year at the glittering event.
As well as taking the top title, Sharlene was also selected as Higher Level Apprentice of the Year for successfully combining her degree studies with a fulfilling full-time role which involves training both colleagues and customers of the leading dairy brand.
Already the holder of two previous food science related degrees, Sharlene completed a Foundation Degree in Food Technology and Management as a higher level apprentice on University Centre Reaseheath’s unique Eden programme. This is a bespoke education initiative, supported by leading dairy companies, which upskills promising professionals in the industry.
An elated Sharlene, who received both awards in front of an audience of employers, friends and family, said: “This apprenticeship has meant a lot to me both personally and professionally.
“Although I could have got a job with the academic degrees I already had, I wanted to develop competence in the actual application of food science. Studying hands-on in Reaseheath’s industry standard food production halls with the support of dairy specialists gave me a unique opportunity to gain the practical understanding I needed to take my career forward.
“I now have the opportunity to work nationwide across Müller’s dairies, delivering training, leading project work and developing our new team of dairy technology apprentices within Müller.”
Emily Ward, HR Director of Müller Milk & Ingredients, said: “We’re delighted to see Sharlene get the recognition she deserves by winning not just one, but two awards for her hard work and dedication.
“Supporting initiatives like the Eden programme helps us ensure we attract more brilliant candidates to join our strong team of enthusiastic and committed employees, and also makes sure we are a great employer.
“We have a strong partnership with Reaseheath and look forward to this continuing to grow over the coming years.”
Senior Technical Manager Maria Calancha, who is Sharlene’s team leader, added: “Educating dairy technologists will ensure the industry has the skills, knowledge, and behaviours it needs for the future. Müller is fortunate to have an outstanding team of Eden graduates and students who contribute so much to our company and to the dairy industry in general.
“It is a pleasure for all of us to congratulate Sharlene on her well-deserved awards for her leadership role in this successful Eden journey.”
One of two runners up for the Higher Level Apprentice of the Year award was Mark White, another Eden graduate who works for Saputo in Davidstow and has since been promoted to Whey Shift Lead, Production.
He said: “My apprenticeship has been a huge help, particularly because of the high level of technical content which has proved very relevant to my new role. For instance, our time getting ‘hands on’ in Reaseheath’s food production hall has given me a much deeper understanding of process flow and the combination of chemistry and physics required to achieve a thorough ‘Clean in Place’ of various unit operations. The food specific micro biology units have also highlighted our industry’s reliance on specification and adherence to critical control points to ensure our products are safe for consumption.”
Saputo line manager Rachel Barnett commented: “We have a history of supporting employees through the Eden programme at Saputo, and the factory has benefited hugely from their contribution, through the skills and technical knowledge gained at Reaseheath. This is no different with Mark, who relishes taking on challenges and increasing not only his technical skills but also his leadership expertise.
“I’m delighted for Mark as this acknowledgement is well deserved and I’m lucky to have him on my team.”
One of the country’s leading apprentice trainers, Reaseheath College and its University Centre currently trains 970 land-based apprentices and works in partnership with hundreds of large, medium and small employers.
The Eden programme is a degree level education initiative, driven and supported by leading dairy companies.