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, 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; Matthews and Tannert Ltd, of Kirkby-in-Ashfield; and The Burnside Partnership, of Coombe.

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.”

West Nottinghamshire College provides education and training to some 30,000 full- and part-time students across all major industry sectors and at pre-GCSE to university level.