Jennifer Kolonko has been named Scotland’s Apprentice of the Year 2022 after bottling success at Coca-Cola Europacific (CCEP) in East Kilbride as a Modern Apprentice.
The first female engineer at the site, Jennifer has pioneered new and innovative solutions to engineering problems that cut waste and championed diversity within the company.
As well as the top title, Jennifer’s achievements saw her win the Modern Apprentice SCQF Level 6+ category sponsored by the Young Person’s Guarantee at this year’s Scottish Apprenticeship Awards.
Jennifer, from Hamilton, was crowned the nation’s top apprentice at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards, which took place virtually on Wednesday 9 March to recognise the resilience and hard work of Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprentices. Organised by Skills Development Scotland, they also shine a spotlight on those employers, providers and individuals who champion apprenticeships.
Jennifer was announced winner by presenter Jennifer Reoch and former apprentice, award winner and Clyde 1 DJ Jonny Campbell. Speaking on her win, Jennifer said: “It makes me feel very proud and I feel like I want to promote to other people to join apprenticeships.”
“It makes me feel very proud and I feel like I want to promote to other people to join apprenticeships.”
Sharon Blyfield, Head of Early Careers at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, said: “During her apprenticeship, Jennifer played a vital role in leading a project to improve mechanical efficiency across the site on the Capri-Sun line.
“She spotted an opportunity to reduce the number of jams. She designed and implemented a system guide to support colleagues in establishing the quickest routes to resolve issues. It has drastically improved mechanical efficiency, reducing waste by 30 per cent and producing up to 10 per cent more product.”
Jennifer has also accompanied senior members of staff at a Scottish Parliament open day to promote the importance of apprenticeships across Scotland and acted as a Just Be ambassador, an initiative which works 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 that has traditionally been dominated by men. She’s paving the way for future female engineers to follow in her footsteps as apprentices, volunteering to talk in schools and to young people in the community.”
“As the first female engineer at the East Kilbride site, Jennifer is changing the narrative around engineering, an industry that has traditionally been dominated by men.”
Minister for Higher Education, Further Education, Youth Employment and Training, Jamie Hepburn said: “The Scottish Apprenticeship Awards are a fantastic way to celebrate the voices of apprentices and their employers from across the length and breadth of the country.
“Jennifer is a great example of how apprenticeships work for Scotland.”
Jennifer started her SCQF Level 6 Modern Apprenticeship with the world’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler in August 2017 and completed it in April 2021.
Jennifer’s career has gone from strength to strength and she is now a senior technical operator on the Capri-Sun line and is in in charge of two production lines.
Jennifer said: “My Modern Apprenticeship has given me the knowledge of how to do things properly and better ways of problem solving and that’s improved my confidence a lot.
“Through the apprenticeship you get to work with experienced engineers and they pass their knowledge onto you.”
The Scottish Apprenticeship Awards took place during Scottish Apprenticeship Week 7-11 March to demonstrate that apprenticeships work for people, business and Scotland’s economy.
Skills Development Scotland Chair Frank Mitchell said: “When it comes to supporting sustainable skills through workforce development or providing opportunities for young people, we know that apprenticeships work.
“The combination of commitment from employers and the backing of Scottish Government will ensure apprenticeships work for everyone, making a significant contributor to Scotland’s recovery and productivity growth.”