Signalling design engineer Jamie-Leigh Clay-ton has reached the final of a national apprenticeship competition.

Miss Clayton, 21, completed a three-year apprenticeship in 2010 at Invensys Rail, Langley Park, Chippenham.

While she was doing her A/S level at Sheldon School, she did not know what to do in the future but thanks to the apprenticeship she now has a career.

Miss Clayton, of Middle-field Road, Chippenham, has won the Thames Valley Regional Apprenticeship Champion of the Year award and is one of 12 former apprentices competing for the national Apprenticeship Champion of the Year title.

She said: “It was a great honour to be named regional winner and it would be amazing to go on to the nationals.

“Apprenticeships let you work with experts in the field who will help you learn to be an expert too. They provide great job opportunities for the future and it’s specialised training that you get paid to do.”

While in the sixth form at Sheldon, Miss Clayton was thinking of a career in finance, but when her dad, Mark, who worked at Invensys, told her of an apprenticeship in engineering she decided to give it a go.

She said: “All the teachers were pushing us to go to university, which I didn’t want to do, and they did not put forward any other options. I really enjoyed doing an apprenticeship. Learning on the job made it a lot clearer than reading from a book.”

Her achievements were recognised at the Institute of Engineering Technicians Young Woman Engineer of the Year where she won a special merit award in 2011.

She has worked to promote engineering and apprenticeships at schools in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire in her role as a science, technology, engineering and maths ambassador.

The national competition needs the public to vote for their favourite finalist. The initial vote runs until October 29 with the three leading scorers invited to the national awards at The Skills Show, Birmingham, on November 14. To vote, visit