From education to employment

Small business in electrotechnical industry wins new Government award for outstanding service to apprenticeship development

SJD Associates, a small business which has shown outstanding dedication to addressing the skills shortage in the electrotechnical industry, has won a new award featured in the Department for Education’s National Apprenticeship Awards.

The award was created by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) to celebrate and raise the profile of all the vital work employers now put into designing and updating all apprenticeships.

SJD has contributed to the approval of 99 apprenticeship standards, three T Levels and 20 Higher Technical Qualifications. They also helped develop IfATE’s equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) framework.

The Installation and Maintenance Electrician apprenticeship, launched in 2015 thanks to guidance from SJD, is the most popular in the sector with over 7,000 starts in 2022-23. In September 2023, another notable one was added with their support to the roster of 680 apprenticeships now available in England: Low Carbon Heating Technician, which will greatly support this country’s drive to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Jennifer Coupland, chief executive of IfATE, said:

“We are delighted to introduce this new award and to have presented it to SJD Associates. SJD is an outstanding example of the work thousands of employers are doing day in and day out, working with IfATE to design apprenticeships for their sectors. Having employers like SJD setting standards for apprenticeships gives real confidence to other employers that apprenticeships are now a gold standard training route.

Ruth Devine, managing director of SJD Associates, has dedicated her time freely to improve the quality of apprenticeships in her sector. She has led by example, employing many apprentices over the years, and has been a powerful advocate for the needs of small businesses within the apprenticeship system. She is a worthy winner of our inaugural award.”

The national ceremony took place on Wednesday 29 November 2023, celebrating 20 years of excellence in apprenticeships.

After receiving the award, Ruth Devine, managing director of SJD, said:

 “As a founding route panel member, it’s a real privilege to support IfATE’s important work to improve the apprenticeship system. It’s hugely rewarding to be involved and see the positive, long-lasting impacts for apprentices and employers.

It’s so important that small employers help shape apprenticeships to suit their business needs. SJD is very grateful to receive this award, it’s fantastic recognition for our longstanding support and deep commitment to quality apprenticeships.”

Two other organisations, BAE Systems and Sumo Digital, were highly commended for their entries.

BAE Systems has consistently worked with IfATE to balance the constraints of regulation with the requirements of aerospace standards. They have represented at several route panels to present proposals, using industry expertise. In 2021, they helped launch a Masters-level sustainability apprenticeship with Cranfield University which has been celebrated for its focus on the climate crisis.

Sumo Digital led the trailblazer group for the Level 7 Game Programmer apprenticeship in 2020-21 with Dr Jacob Habgood acting as the chair. When there were no delivery providers to deliver the completed standard, Sumo Digital registered as an employer provider and developed its own delivery programme within the Sumo Academy. Its first cohort of apprentices graduated in July 2023.

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