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Westminster celebration for star apprentices and employers

Posted: 15 July 2016

Outstanding apprentices and employers that are dedicated to training new talent were honoured at a prestigious House of Lords reception.

It came courtesy of West Nottinghamshire College Group’s annual ‘celebration of apprenticeships’ event in the historic building’s Cholmondeley Room on Tuesday 12 July, held to recognise the hard work and commitment of current and former apprentices and their employers.

Now in its fifth year, the ceremony saw almost 30 top-performing apprentices – whose ages range from 18 to 61 – presented with awards and be formally congratulated in front of their proud families and employers. They were selected from the college group’s crop of 13,000 apprentices across the country for their talent, dedication and contribution to their workplace.

The high-profile event was once again hosted by The Rt Hon Baroness Prashar CBE, a cross-bench peer who has led several public and voluntary organisations.

Other speakers included His Excellency Mr Navtej Sarna, the High Commissioner of India in London, who spoke about the UK’s contribution to the Indian skills agenda; Dame Asha Khemka, principal and chief executive of the college group; and Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

Ms Fairbairn joined Sherwood MP Mark Spencer in presenting engraved glass trophies and certificates to the award-winning apprentices from the college, its subsidiary company Vision Apprentices and partner training providers.

For the first time the event included three ‘employer of the year’ awards to businesses that have shown a significant commitment towards apprenticeships. These went to DB Cargo UK, of Doncaster, South Yorkshire; Matthews and Tannert Ltd, of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire; and The Burnside Partnership, of Coombe, Oxfordshire.

Guests at the glittering event included dignitaries, politicians, business leaders and senior figures from the further education, higher education and skills sectors, along with college staff and governors.

Introducing the awards, Baroness Prashar said: “Nothing gives me greater pleasure than supporting this event. It is inspiring to see the apprentices and their achievements being recognised, and to welcome the employers who actually make the apprenticeship scheme work.”

Principal Dame Asha said: “These awards are now firmly-established as one of the highlights in the college calendar and the House of Lords is a truly fitting venue to celebrate our top-performing apprentices, who provide the skills and talent that make their organisations so successful.

"High-quality apprenticeships rely on the commitment and enthusiasm of businesses, so I was particularly delighted to see so many of their employers in attendance.

“There can be no doubt that apprenticeships make a real different to individuals, to employers and to communities. Not only do they help improve the employability skills of our young people, they also propel the economic growth of our nation.

“As the largest college apprenticeship-provider in the country, we are proud to be at the forefront of this vitally-important government priority.”

Speaking about the contribution that apprentices make to UK Plc, CBI chief Ms Fairbairn – whose organisation represents 190,000 firms, employing a combined workforce of seven million – said: “The businesses I speak to really get it. They know that hiring an apprentice is not a cost – it’s an investment in their company’s future that they can’t afford not to make.

“So I am thrilled that for the first time, this celebration also saw awards presented to employers as well as to the apprentices.

“For the apprentices, they’re the skills that last a lifetime. For the employers, they are the talent which gives them the edge, which is why so many of them are behind the apprenticeship programme.”

Apprentices and employers spoke of their pride at receiving their prestigious accolades.

Adam Smith, 20, from Pleasley, Mansfield, who is a level 3 apprentice electrician at Sutton-in-Ashfield firm RJ Booth Services Ltd, said: “It proves my hard work is being recognised by other people, which makes it all the more worthwhile. It’s also recognition of all the time and effort my work colleagues and the college are putting in to my training.”

Jessica Liffen, 19, from New Houghton, Mansfield, who works as a level 3 business administration apprentice in the college’s adult and community learning team, said: “To be part of this celebration and selected as one of this year’s winners, knowing the college trains 13,000 apprentices,  was absolutely brilliant.

“I wasn’t even expecting to be nominated so it was fantastic to receive an award and to have my mum with me to see it.”

Carol Hall, 61, from Meden Vale, Mansfield, a level 3 health and social care apprentice at Blue Sky Care, Annesley, said: “It was a lovely event; I enjoyed every minute. Although it’d been a long time since I last studied – 42 years ago, in fact – I had such great support from my tutors and got on really well. I was also proud to pass my English and maths courses alongside the apprenticeship.

“Apprentices put a lot into achieving their qualification, but there’s also a lot of work by the tutors, mentors and the college that goes into supporting us. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to progress in the ways we have done.”

Collecting the award on behalf of Matthews and Tannert Ltd were directors Craig Matthews and Nick Dowson, who joined the firm as college-trained apprentice plumbers in the 1990s.

The college has been training the company’s apprentices for almost 50 years, with 17 currently on its books, who are all working towards construction-related qualifications.

Craig Matthews said: “The company has been affiliated with the college for 48 years so it’s nice to be recognised for that. Our founders, Steve Matthews and Mick Tannert, started out as apprentices at West Notts and have instilled the apprenticeship ethos into the business, which we’ve continued.

“Many of us at the firm came through the apprenticeship scheme. Apprentices are the future of our business.”

Co-founder Steve Matthews said: “Matthews and Tannert has always tried its hardest to support apprentices; providing local jobs for local people. It makes me very proud that we’re actually achieving what we set out to achieve – and long may it continue.”

The award-winning apprentices were (apprenticeship framework and employer/workplace in brackets):

  • Laura Birks, 21, from Chelmsford, Essex (Level 2 Legal Services at Kennedys, London)
  • Matthew Blackwell, 20, from Kiveton Park, Sheffield (Level 2 Rail Engineering at New Horizons  Apprentices, part of Trackwork Ltd, Doncaster, South Yorkshire) *
  • Lauren Bowdler, 20, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire (Level 3 Business Administration at British Gas Business, Rotherham, South Yorkshire)
  • Chloe Bowers, 18, from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire (Level 2 Business Administration at SMB Consultancy, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire)
  • Jade Brailsford, 18, from Chesterfield, Derbyshire (Level 3 Health and Social Care at Ashleigh Residential Care Home, Chesterfield, Derbyshire)
  • Christopher Brown, 23, of Hucknall, Nottinghamshire (Level 3 Plumbing at J.C. Brown and Co, Hucknall, Nottingham)
  • Katy Brown, 19, of Grays, Essex (Level 3 Legal Services at HM Revenue and Customs, London)
  • Andrew Burbidge, 25, of Leicester (Level 3 IT, Software, Web and Telecoms Professionals at PKF Cooper Parry, Castle Donnington, Leicestershire)
  • Jade Charlesworth, 19, of Doncaster, South Yorkshire (Level 2 Rail Engineering at New Horizons  Apprentices, part of Trackwork Ltd, Doncaster, South Yorkshire) *
  • Leanne Evangelou, 32, of Boughton, Newark, Nottinghamshire (Level 3 Adult Social Care at Nottinghamshire Probation Trust, Newark, Nottinghamshire)
  • Sean Gayson, 27, of Eastbourne, East Sussex (Level 2 Team Leading at SAGA, Hastings, East Sussex)
  • Carol Hall, 61, of Meden Vale, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire (Level 3 Health and Social Care at Blue Sky Care, of Annesley, Nottinghamshire)
  • Leah Hurst, 20, of Grantham, Lincolnshire (Level 3 IT, Software, Web and Telecoms Professionals at Timico Ltd, Newark, Nottinghamshire)
  • Jessica Liffen, 19, of New Houghton, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire (Level 3 Business Administration at West Nottinghamshire College, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire)
  • Chantelle McGarry, 43, of Whitehaven, Cumbria (Level 3 Hospitality Supervision and Leadership at Center Parcs Whinfell Forest, Penrith, Cumbria)
  • Jonathon Miller, 28, of Clifton, Bristol (Level 2 Rail Services Shunting at DB Cargo UK, Doncaster, South Yorkshire – based at Westbury Depot, Westbury, Wiltshire)
  • Shannon Morgan, 21, of Northampton (Level 3 Customer Service at The Tess Group, Northampton)
  • Heather Neale, 18, of Pleasley, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire (Level 3 Business Administration at Dale (Mansfield) Ltd, New Houghton, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire)
  • Samantha Pooley, 43, of Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex (Level 3 Management at SAGA, Hastings, East Sussex)
  • Charlotte Rowswell, 20, of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire (Level 3 Business Administration at CA Traffic Ltd, of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire)
  • Reece Rymell, 18, of Underwood, Nottinghamshire (Level 3 IT, Software, Web and Telecoms Professionals at Pyramid Press Ltd, Nottingham)
  • Scott Smart, 21, of Newark, Nottinghamshire (Level 3 IT, Software, Web and Telecoms Professionals at NSK Europe Ltd, Newark, Nottinghamshire)
  • Adam Smith, 20, of Pleasley, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire (Level 3 in Installing Electro-Technical Equipment and Systems at RJ Booth Services Ltd, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire)
  • Louis Stacey, 23, of Doncaster, South Yorkshire (Level 2 Rail Engineering at New Horizons  Apprentices, part of Trackwork Ltd, Doncaster, South Yorkshire)
  • Ryan Watson, 21, of Church Warsop, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire (Level 2 Trowel Occupations at DJ Swallow Construction Ltd, Sedgebrook, Grantham, Lincolnshire)
  • Emily Wilson, 20, of Mansfield, Nottinghamshire (Level 2 Customer Service at Rippon Homes Ltd, Mansfield Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire) *
  • Emily Woodhouse, 19, of Baslow, Bakewell, Derbyshire (Level 2 Business Administration at Construction Skills People, Chesterfield, Derbyshire)
  • Ryan Worthington, 19, of Forest Town, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire (Level 3 Mechanical Manufacturing Engineering at Glenair UK Ltd, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire)

* Was unable to attend but will receive trophy and certificate

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