Apprentices and employers from across the North East have been recognised in an awards ceremony, celebrating the positive impact of apprenticeships on the region.
The Newcastle College Apprenticeship Awards, held at St James’ Park, shared successes from the past twelve months and brought key employers and their apprentices together, to demonstrate how apprenticeships can be a powerful tool in combatting skills gaps.
Marc McPake, Director of Business Partnerships at Newcastle College said: “The Apprenticeship Awards are a highlight in Newcastle College’s diary and a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the hard work and success of our apprentices and our employer partners.
“Apprenticeships are vital to the future of skills and employment within the region and to supporting the North East LEPs aim to create better jobs, by helping more people into skilled careers and more businesses find the right people for their workforce.
“This event really helps us to highlight just how important apprenticeships are and shine a light on the powerful differences they can make to both individuals and companies here in our region.”
With nine awards up for grabs, the event focused on the individuals benefitting from apprenticeships and the businesses who champion them.
Jean Tams, a business admin apprentice, was given the Personal Achievement award for the way she has excelled personally and professionally since she embarked on her apprenticeship at the age of 16, just 18 months ago.
Her employer Forward Assist, a charity which provides support and guidance to former servicemen and women, nominated Jean for the award, stating that despite her young age she has become a key part of the business.
“Jean has grown massively in confidence and is now an irreplaceable member of the team,” they said.
“We are delighted with her professional progress and truly believe she will go on to be an asset to any team she joins in the future. We hope she considers setting up her own business or eventually taking over this charity as CEO.”
Following her win, Jean commented: “When I was told I had been shortlisted for an Apprenticeship Award, I was shocked and humbled, but also delighted! It is an honour to win the Personal Achievement Award.
“The opportunities and experience I’ve been given during my apprenticeship aren’t something you come across every day. I’ve been to the Houses of Parliament, to France to help at the charity’s annual Veterans Retreat and I’m looking forward to going to America later this year with the Women Veterans Team.
“I don’t know who is happier - me, the team at Forward Assist, or my mam who is so proud of me. I feel so privileged to be where I am today, and I wouldn’t have done it without the support of my colleagues and my skills trainer from Newcastle College."
The event was sponsored by Northumbrian Water, which was awarded Employer of the Year at last year’s awards, due to its commitment to apprenticeships.
Sarah Salter, Group HR Director at Northumbrian Water commented: “We were delighted to sponsor Newcastle College’s Apprenticeship Awards this year.
“We know first-hand how valuable apprenticeships are for our people at Northumbrian Water, developing our teams as well as our business. Apprenticeships create opportunities to learn, grow and achieve for all involved and it’s fantastic to be supporting the recognition of the achievements of all the apprentices at this event.”
A number of apprenticeship employers from across the region supported the event with category sponsorship and independent judging, including Port Training Services, Hodgson Sayers, Bernicia, Dove Building Materials, Reed and Wearside Plumbing Supplies.
The annual awards formed part of Newcastle College’s National Apprenticeships Week celebrations, a UK-wide initiative to encourage more uptake of apprenticeships with individuals and employers.
Since the apprenticeship reforms in 2017, which seen the introduction of an Apprenticeship Levy for larger businesses and the development of degree level apprenticeships, they’ve become a key focus for Newcastle College.
Commenting on the changes, Marc McPake continued: “Apprenticeships continue to be at the forefront of Newcastle College’s offer for both learners and employers.
“We believe that they are a positive career choice for people of any age or skill level and a sensible investment for businesses which are looking to grow and develop through a skilled workforce.
“Our apprenticeship programme is designed to meet the skills gaps and needs of employers within the North East while creating work-ready individuals with the right skills and experience to forge a successful career.
“This awards evening has shown how successful and valuable apprenticeships are in helping us to do this. It’s also given us an opportunity to highlight the hard work apprentices do and say thank you to our employer partners who have made the choice to invest in apprenticeships to help grow their business.”
View the image gallery on Facebook here or see a video from the event below. We even streamed the whole thing live if you'd like to watch that here.