A SPECACULAR evening of high emotion and standing ovations that will linger long in the memory, were at the heart of the first ever Multicultural Apprenticeship Awards.
The awards, staged at the East side Rooms in Birmingham, saw more than 600 people celebrate the success of over 100 apprentices nominated across 13 different categories.
It was the climax of 12 months of work by a team powered by the Pathway Group, a national skills and employability provider, in partnership with Pearson and supported by a small army of sponsors.
At the end of the evening, software engineer Parris Small, who works for Jaguar Land Rover was declared the overall Apprentice of the Year.
Hundreds of guests stood and clapped as she received her award from Anne Ashworh, head of Apprenticeships with Pearson alongside Alan Hill the chair and Safaraz Ali the chief executive of Pathway and the founder of the awards and the Apprenticeship Alliance.
Parris said that all of the apprentices were winners and pledged herself to doing all that she can to raise the profile of apprenticeships and make as many as possible aware of the opportunities that she has enjoyed.
The standing ovation for Parris, who earlier in the evening had picked up the Engineering and Manufacturing category trophy, was the third but not quite the loudest.
An ovation fuelled by high emotion was given to Areeba Kainat, the Intermediate Apprentice of the Year.
People stood and applauded, cheered and some even had tears in their eyes after hearing how Areeba had overcome heart wrenching challenges including the murder of her father, experience of domestic violence and being put into foster care for a time.
She had wanted to make her late father proud and this had been the driver for all her hard work.
It was another story of triumph over adversity that earned the other standing ovation, given to keynote speaker Haider Ali, himself a former Apprentice of the Year.
Speaking without notes, he told of his life that had included going initially to a secondary school where the pass rate in maths was 15 per cent.
But determination to succeed gave him the grades that resulted in receiving university offers from the LSE, UCL and Warwick Universities.
However, hearing a talk given at school by two apprentices made him determined to try another way. He eventually secured a master’s level apprenticeship with global aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls Royce.
He recently qualified as one of the UK’s youngest Chartered Management Accountants.
Numerous national awards have followed and Haider now reaches an audience of more than one million with educational content about apprenticeships on Tik Tok.
There were many highlights at the awards and one that came early was a special new category that had been unannounced, so taking the winner Anna Morrison CBE, from Amazing Apprenticeships, completely by surprise.
Anna was recognised for her Overall Contribution to Apprenticeships. Kasim Choudhry, Events Director and Multicultural Apprenticeship Ambassador for Pathway Group stated: “Her commitment to the cause includes sending emails at 4am and working with schools and colleges, as well as with employers to make sure that they understand and get the benefits that apprentices can bring.
Her work has included travelling to promote apprenticeships abroad, including a trip to Spain, where she learned a speech she made in Spanish, without speaking a word of the language.”
After receiving her award, Anna said that Government support for apprenticeships has not always been there, but she is more optimistic now for the future and wants to see the effort put ‘on steroids.’
Some of the biggest names in global business were amongst the sponsors of the first Multicultural Apprenticeship Awards.
“We are very appreciative of the support from all of our sponsors,” said Safaraz Ali, founder of the awards and the chief executive of the Pathway Group, the national skills and employability provider that started the awards in 2016 as the Asian Apprenticeship Awards.
“Without the support of our sponsors the wards would not be possible. Having these great names behind up sends a powerful message about the importance of apprenticeships and diversity.”
Sponsors included: BT Group, Lifetime Training, Birmingham Metropolitan College, Mindful Education, Kaplan Financial, Pathway Group, NCFE, JTL Training, Severn Trent Water, The British Army, The Royal Navy, Bootcamp Media, Virgin Media O2, Lloyds Banking Group, Amazing Apprenticeships, NOCN Group and the Association of Learning Providers.
Safaraz Ali, chief executive of the Pathway Group and Anne Ashworth from Pearson with the overall apprentice of the year Parris Small.