The search is on for the countrys top apprentice employer as the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) launches its fifth annual Apprenticeship Awards 2008. Employers of all sizes are encouraged to enter the prestigious Awards, which opened for entries last night at an event attended by Skills Minister, David Lammy MP.
The manufacturing sector has been well represented at previous Awards. Metsec plc and Kesslers International were finalists in 2007, while Special Metals Wiggin and Heller Machine Tools were finalists the year before in the 2006 Awards.
Speaking at the event, David Lammy MP said: Apprenticeships are integral to combating the nations skills shortages. They stimulate innovation, give businesses the skills they need and provide opportunities for individuals to fulfil their potential. The government has recently announced that there will be 500,000 new Apprenticeship places by 2020 so that even more employers and individuals can reap the benefits. The Apprenticeship programme makes a real difference to all concerned, and Im delighted to attend the fifth national Apprenticeship Awards launch tonight.
Manufacturing employers of all sizes are great advocates of Apprenticeships. Kesslers International was a finalist for the 2007 Medium Employer Award. George Kessler CBE, Group Deputy Chairman of Kesslers International said: We have found apprentices deliver three key benefits to our business. Firstly, they bring the most up to date craft skills to business through their external training. Secondly, they invigorate longer standing members of staff with their curiosity and enthusiasm. Thirdly, they carry on the tradition of craft skills which enable our company to produce a better product.
Our plant is high tech and the benefits of our considerable and constant investment cannot be realised without a highly skilled workforce. Their input ensures that our company retains its edge as a flexible and cost effective quality manufacturer, essential for our survival in a competitive marketplace.
Metsec Plc was a finalist for the Large Employer winner award in 2007. Stephen Giles, training manager at Metsec said: Apprentices have helped increase capacity in one of our businesses from 1,000 tonnes in 1997, to 10,000 tonnes in 2006. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what apprentices have added to the business.
The Apprenticeship Awards are held annually to celebrate the success of apprentices who have made a real difference to their future and to the organisation they work for. They also recognise the work of employers who are successfully tackling skills shortages to build their future workforce through Apprenticeships.
Chris Banks, Chair of the Learning and Skills Council added: Apprenticeships are a more attractive option than ever before for those employers wanting to take control of the future of their business by investing in skills. Today, more than 130,000 employers across the country are using Apprenticeships to improve their business performance, whilst giving talented individuals the opportunity to achieve their goals.
Entries to the Awards have increased year on year and we have received around 4,000 since the first Apprenticeship Awards in 2004. We are now calling on all apprentice employers across the country to enter our fifth national Awards.
The Awards highlight the popularity of Apprenticeships amongst employers of all sizes, with past winners including BAE Systems and British Gas in the Large Employer category, with the telecoms giant, BT, winning in 2007. Heller Machine Tools represented the manufacturing sector when it was Highly Commended in the Medium Business category in 2006.
Dave Walsh, Head of BT Apprenticeships said: Winning Large Employer of the Year 2007 was a great tribute to BTs investment in our apprentices. Our Apprenticeship programme is crucial for future proofing our business, delivering a clear return on investment. We will definitely be entering again this year.
Employers are eligible to enter one of four categories depending on their company size; Micro (1-9 employees), Small (10-49 employees), Medium (50-249 employees) and Large (250+ employees). They are assessed on a number of criteria including implementation of the Apprenticeship programme, clear demonstration of the way Apprenticeships have benefited their business and the level of support provided to their apprentices.
In addition to the employer Awards, there are four categories open to apprentices - Apprentice of the Year, Advanced Apprentice of the Year, Young Apprentice of the Year and Personal Achiever of the Year.
The Awards Premier Sponsor for the fourth consecutive year is City & Guilds.
Chris Humphries, director-general of City & Guilds commented: Any business can only be as good as the skills of its workforce, so it is great to see that the Apprenticeship Awards showcase the very best in staff training. As well as applauding individual and employer successes, these Awards are a testament to the real economic benefits apprentices can bring.
To enter the Awards, or for more information, visit apprenticeships.org.uk/awards or call 0800 954 8896. Deadline for entries is 29 February 2008. The Apprenticeship Awards will be held on 10 July 2008 at the Royal Horticultural Halls in central London.