Liebherr GB Ltd from Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, has been revealed as the BAE Systems Large Employer of the Year at the National Apprenticeship Awards at an exclusive ceremony at London's Grosvenor House.
The Awards, now in their twelfth year, are run by the National Apprenticeship Service and recognise excellence in two areas: businesses that grow their own talent with apprentices and apprentices who have made a significant contribution to their workplaces. The company was chosen as the winner in recognition of its commitment to developing young people through apprenticeships.
Skills Minister Nick Boles said: "Congratulations to Liebherr GB Ltd for their success at the National Apprenticeship Awards. Apprenticeships truly are set to be one of the great success stories of the decade, and Liebherr GB Ltd is a worthy ambassador. We are committed to 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 so that even more businesses can follow Liebherr GB Ltd's lead and reap the benefits of apprenticeships."
Liebherr GB Ltd wins annual award three times in a row: Lee Mason (Apprentice Programme Generalist), Ryan Brookes (Business Support Apprentice), Tom Darlow (Business Support Apprentice) and Michael Nicol (SFA) (f.l.)
Employment Minister Priti Patel said: "I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to Liebherr GB for their fantastic achievement in being named the BAE Systems Large Employer of the Year. Apprenticeships offer a fantastic way for many young people of all backgrounds to earn as they learn while providing employers with the transferable skills needed to take their business from strength to strength. We currently have record-breaking levels of employment – and this is boosted by prospects like apprenticeships. I want to see this continue.
"By working closely with businesses and taking steps like rolling out our 'Jobcentre Plus Support for Schools' programme to teach pupils about work experience, apprenticeships and traineeships, we are helping to create an even more flexible and resilient labour market for the future."
Liebherr-GB Ltd is an integral part of the British and Irish construction, mining, materials handling, cranes, plant hire, waste management and associated industries, playing a leading role in providing these markets with state-of-the-art equipment and quality after-sales support from a network of well-established service centres.
The company employs 322 people and its commitment to customers, products and services means it relies heavily on its staff and the need to nurture and develop current, as well as future talent with necessary knowledge, skills and attributes.
The company is currently committed to 48 apprentices, which equates to approximately 16.1% of the workforce and an 11% increase in numbers on this time last year. All full time apprentices are engaged on four year programmes to enable development at the correct pace for the business and themselves on a personal level.
These vary from Welder/Fabricators/Mechanical Engineers, Construction Plant Engineers, Vehicle Paint/Bodyshop, Machine Sales, Logistics, IT and Business Studies/Administration apprentices. The company has upheld retention of apprentices and continue with 100% taking full time roles with three going into senior roles as first line managers.
On accepting the award, Lee Mason, Apprentice Programme Manager, said: "Productivity has increased, customer service has improved with current, trained and qualified staff with the right attitudes and skills assisting in increasing our customer base by 15 percent.
"Apprentices have suggested new ideas and presented to the board. These were implemented with an efficiency and cost savings of £124,000.
"The apprenticeship programme has also assisted in LGB winning two major contracts, providing evidence of future product support through trained personnel. We are continually expanding and apprenticeships are now an integral part of the strategy, identifying enthusiastic individuals that can be developed from the ground up and are real assets to the company, bringing productivity, motivation and cost efficiencies."
Nadhim Zahawi, the Prime Minister's Apprenticeship Adviser, who presented the awards, said: "The Prime Minister is committed to 3 million apprenticeship starts by 2020 and I am excited to have a role in helping to deliver this goal, while pushing to revolutionise the skills of our workforce in Britain. Good quality apprenticeships create a fairer society by giving hard working young people the chance to aim for their dream job whilst playing their part in building a stronger economy for Britain.
"There are many examples of excellent apprenticeships and apprentices in England and these winners are the best of the best. I congratulate Liebherr GB Ltd on their success. It's an honour to have been part of these awards; to play a small part in recognising the effort of so many great businesses and to reward apprentices for their hard work and dedication. All this year's winners should shout from the rooftops about what taking an apprenticeship has done for them or what hiring an apprentice has done for their business. I am determined that apprenticeships should be given the recognition they deserve, because they absolutely do deserve it."
The ceremony also saw Liebherr GB Ltd named in the prestigious Top 100 Apprenticeship Employer list. The list, which is compiled annually by the National Apprenticeship Service, sponsored by City & Guilds, recognises excellence in businesses that employ apprentices.
Richard Hamer, Education and Skills Director from BAE Systems, sponsor of the Large Employer of the Year Award, said: "We are delighted to congratulate the winners and finalists at the Apprenticeship Awards 2016. All the individuals and employers have worked incredibly hard to be here and it's great to be able to share their achievements and successes on this special evening.
"We are proud of the valuable contribution our apprentices make to our business and at any one time we have more than 1,500 apprentices in our training programme. The Apprenticeship Awards are a great way to mark the achievements of the Apprenticeship community, from individuals to businesses and in all sectors and of all sizes."