Coca-Cola apprentice Amelia Cockran on COVID-19 challenge

This content item was originally published on, a William Reed online publication.

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Cockran: 'It has been a challenge – a good challenge at the same time'
Cockran: 'It has been a challenge – a good challenge at the same time'

Related tags Apprenticeship Drinks

Rapid change in a COVID-19 world and new learning opportunities have been essential parts of the lives of apprentices in 2020, one finalist in the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards (FMEAs) reveals in this exclusive podcast.

Amelia Cockran, Coca-Cola European Partners’s (CCEP’s) mechanical and electrical engineering apprentice and finalist for the FMEA’s Apprentice of the Year Award hopeful discussed the challenges social distancing has created.

“Everything is now virtual via Zoom and Teams and FaceTime – that’s been a big challenge to get used to that,”​ she explained. “For someone who’s always had a face-to-face education and being in school to suddenly be thrown in the deep end and expected to deliver top grades and the work.

Challenging at first

“With work, at first it was a really big challenge. As an apprentice you can’t work on your own without having someone supervise us or watch over us to make sure we don’t hurt ourselves or someone else, so that was really challenging having to work two metres away and wearing face masks.”

For Cockran, face masks created a barrier in communication for a role so reliant on understanding what people are saying. With personal protective equipment enforced at the factory, she came to realise how much she relied on lip reading in the loud environment she was working in.

“We’ve since worked out new ways of communicating and getting messages across, but it has been a challenge – a good challenge at the same time,”​ she continued.

FMEA finals

Cockran is in the running to be named Apprentice of the Year at this year’s FMEAs, sponsored by Dawn Foods and Fowler Welch. Winners will be revealed in an exclusive online ceremony to be held from 5pm to 6pm on Thursday 11 February. For the full list of finalists in all categories, visit the awards website.

Commenting on her nomination, she said: “To be nominated was an absolute shock, the biggest shock to be chosen out of all the Coca-Cola apprentices that we have in the UK and to find out I was in the finals was absolutely incredible. I was fighting back the tears almost because I was so proud.

“If you had told me a year ago I was a finalist in an award I would have said it wasn’t true! It means the world to me.”

Cockran is one of five apprentices to make the shortlist in this year’s awards. Click here to listen to one of our other finalists, Finnebrogue Artisan automation engineer Henry Greer.

Related topics People & Skills Drinks COVID-19

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