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NULC student is runner-up at national Student of the Year awards

16th November 2017

A university-level student from Newcastle-under-Lyme College (NULC) came runner-up in the ‘Apprentice of the Year’ category at the Association of Colleges (AoC) Student of the Year Awards on Tuesday 14 November.

NULC student is runner-up at national Student of the Year awards

Out of 34 entries for the ‘Apprentice of the Year’ category, Josh Barber, aged 23 from Clayton, was shortlisted to receive the national award along with two other apprentices from different colleges across the country. Josh was shortlisted because of his dedication to his studies and his employer, pioneering technology leader, ABB, based in Stone, where he completed some outstanding work on a client’s wind farm grid connection project.

Josh, who is currently studying a Foundation Degree in Electrical and Electronic Technology as part of his Higher Apprenticeship at NULC, received the runner-up award at a prestigious awards ceremony which took place at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Birmingham.

Higher Apprentice, Josh, from NULC, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to receive the runner-up award. Loads of students and apprentices up and down the country were nominated to receive an award and I was shocked when I found out I was shortlisted – I didn’t think I’d win anything. It just goes to show that hard work and dedication to your studies and in the workplace really does pay off.”

The judging panel, which included David Hughes, Chief Executive of AoC, Andrea Jones, Head of Communications at AoC, Emily Champman, Vice President (FE) of the National Union of Students and Richard Brooks, Employment Manager for Step Up To Serve, concluded that they were impressed with Josh’s commitment to his Apprenticeship and how he has made such a significant impact in his role at ABB.

Journalist and TV presenter, Steph McGovern, hosted the awards ceremony which formed part of the AoCs Annual Conference & Exhibition which also saw the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, deliver a talk to conference attendees.

The AoC is a not-for-profit membership organisation and was set up in 1996 by colleges to act as their collective voice. The AoC represent and promote the interests of colleges and provide their members with professional support services. The Student of the Year Awards highlight exceptional achievement and celebrates successes and 271 further education, sixth form, tertiary and specialist colleges across the UK, which make up 94% of the sector, can nominate their students to receive the awards.

David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “The Student of the Year Awards showcase the very best of college students across the country. They celebrate the achievements of the exceptional students who stand out from the crowd. It isn’t only about whether someone has achieved top grades, but rather the inspirational nature of accomplishments. All of the finalists are exceptional and highlight what can be achieved through determination, perseverance and commitment.”

This year’s awards saw 115 nominations across three categories, which as well as ‘Apprentice of the Year’, included ‘Young Student of the Year’ and ‘Adult Student of the Year’.

Outside of his main duties as an Apprentice Circuit Engineer, Josh voluntarily supports ABB on a regular basis. He often helps out with ABB’s Schools Support Programme, co-ordinates industry days and volunteers at events and career days. He has also given presentations on ABB’s work to scholars, students, the local community and MPs.

Karen Dobson, Principal & Chief Executive of the Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group, said: “On behalf of everyone at NULC, we’re immensely proud of Josh and this achievement. Members of the College’s Senior Management Team attended the awards evening to support Josh, it was a brilliant evening and all of the students and apprentices shortlisted should be very proud of themselves. Josh was shortlisted not just for his outstanding work, but for also being a role model to future generations of engineering apprentices. We know that Josh has a very bright future ahead of him and wish him continued success in his career.”

Josh’s achievements have been recognised many times before and in November 2016, he was awarded ‘Apprentice of the Year’ at the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) annual Apprentice and Technician of the Year Awards.

NULC’s apprenticeship success rates are consistently ahead of the national average and the Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group (NSCG) currently work with a range of employers from a number of different industries including Health and Social Care, Childcare, Design, Business and Administration, Construction, Engineering, Motor Vehicle and more. Key employer partners include ABB, Siemens, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, GE, Keele University, Knights Solicitors and many more.

For more information about studying an apprenticeship at NULC or if you are a business and would like to speak to someone about hiring an apprentice, visit, call 01782 254287 or email


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