Apprenticeship awards celebrate successes

A number of apprentices and employers were applauded at an awards ceremony during National Apprenticeship Week earlier this month.

National Apprenticeship Week is an annual celebration of the impact of apprenticeships on individuals, employers and the economy. This year’s events took place from 3 to 9 February and kicked off in Sandwell with a hugely successful careers fair, attended by over 200 people.

Later in the week, the Apprenticeship Star Awards were held at Sandwell College, recognising apprentices and employers from across the borough in eleven categories. The winners included Sandwell Council’s Olivia Cleaver, who won the Special Award for Best Advanced Apprentice, Edward Barber, a former dairy farmer who is completing a plumbing and heating apprenticeship, who won the Special Award for Best Intermediates Apprenticeship, and Rebecca Evans who works in the nursery at Christ Church Primary School and won the Special Award for Developing Apprentice Talent.

Councillor Danny Millard, cabinet member for skills and employment said: “There are some really outstanding apprentices working for the council and in businesses across Sandwell. The awards ceremony was a great celebration of their talent and hard work. Our apprentices are an inspiration to us all and show the high aspirations of Sandwell. As a council, we are very committed to apprenticeships and getting people into employment.”

For young people, apprenticeships are an opportunity to earn a basic wage while working towards recognised qualifications. This can help boost self-confidence and a sense of independence, whilst also offering tailored support. Apprentices gain valuable work experience and develop their skills, making them much more employable at the beginning of their careers.

For employers, taking on an apprentice is a great way to utilise government funding to recruit and prepare a young person for a long-term future within a business. Employees who have been trained in-house tend to stay in a company for longer, with 80 per cent of businesses seeing a significant increase in staff retention. A 2017 survey also found that three quarters of employers reported ‘improved productivity, better quality of product or service, and higher staff morale’ after taking on an apprentice.

If you think an apprentice is just what your business needs, then Think Sandwell can help, offering expert advice and support all the way through the apprenticeship process. We can even fund certain placements and take care of the paperwork. For more information, call us on 0121 569 2099 or email