Two Leicestershire-based apprentices from North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College (NWSLC) are celebrating after they reached the shortlist of a regional awards scheme that has also recognised the achievements of the college in its partnerships with business and its improvement through technology.

Alice Deeping, who works as social media assistant at Leicester-based PR agency, Unsworth Sugden, and Emily-Rose Moore, a business administration apprentice at Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, have both been shortlisted in the Apprentice of the Year category of the East Midlands Chamber Leicestershire Business Awards and will compete for the final prize later this year alongside peers from other local businesses.

Joining Unsworth Sugden in February 2020, Alice had only one month to get to know new team members before lockdown required her to adapt to remote working. She impressed her employers with her enthusiasm, proactivity and professionalism and is on track to successfully achieve her diploma in business administration this summer.

Apprentice Emily works within the estates and asset management team at Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council which looks after council-owned buildings and facilities. Emily took on several projects to help the efficiency of the estates team and once she has completed her qualification, looks forward to assisting with capital projects including a new crematorium and the developed of a replacement building for the Ambion Court care home in Market Bosworth.

In addition, NWSLC is proud to have been shortlisted in the Education and Business Partnership category for its work to provide industry work placements for students despite the restrictions imposed by lockdown. The college set up a dedicated arm of its employability team to match young people with opportunities across a range of industry sectors, maintaining continuity of engagement throughout the pandemic. The college designed a bespoke Pre-placement Preparation Programme that is now being shared with other colleges through the national T Level Ambassador Programme run by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

The college has also reached the final four in the Business Improvement Through Technology category based on its work to improve the online classroom experience during lockdown, to introduce VR to provide remote school visits, and to enable more adults than ever before to gain qualifications as part of its distance learning programme.  

The college’s Online and Distance Learning Academy was inundated with enrolments including for those wishing to improve their awareness and understanding of mental health and wellbeing issues, topics which have seen rising interest in the wake of the pandemic. The college’s online learning became a lifeline across a wide community while adults were unable to attend colleges, enabling them to gain qualifications providing a vital service to people in self-isolation, and improving accessibility and social mobility by widening participation.

The provision was accessed by over 4,000 adults aged between 19 and 80 from over 35 counties in most English regions. Marion Plant, OBE FCGI, Principal and Chief Executive of NWSLC said, “We are delighted to have been shortlisted in three categories of these prestigious awards. I am incredibly proud of everything we have achieved as a college during the pandemic, from supporting our talented apprentices to continue their skills development in difficult circumstances, adapting the way we operate so that our students were able to access the best possible experience of remote learning, and enabling thousands of adults to gain valuable qualifications from their own home. I wish all our finalists the very best of luck for the next stage of the competition.”

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