Winners of the 2009 Apprenticeship Awards were celebrating on Thursday night at a ceremony in Old Billingsgate, London, presented by Rugby World Cup champion Matt Dawson.
Mr Dawson said: "It’s a real honour to be involved in this year’s national Apprenticeship Awards. I believe Apprenticeships are tremendously important to Britain’s future, they unlock talent and provide a viable, alternative route for young people to pursue a career.
"No one knows more than me just how important training is to help you bring your A-game to the pitch. These winners have shown that they are not only true team players but they really are at the top of their game in their respective areas."
The Apprenticeship Awards, now in their sixth year, attracted 1,058 entries, representing individuals and companies from all over the country. This year, hopefuls were competing to win one of three Apprentice of the Year or one of five Employer of the Year Awards.
Simon Waugh, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, which is responsible for driving forward the Government’s ambition for Apprenticeships and was behind the event, congratulated employers' commitment to apprenticeships.
"Apprenticeships are vital to business in today’s challenging times - particularly as we prepare for the upturn. We need a skilled workforce. We need employees that are motivated and fully engaged in what they do so they can build skills to fulfil their potential. Many thousands of employers across the country recognise this and are actively investing in their people every day. The Apprenticeship Awards celebrate "winning by doing", both for apprentices and employers who employ apprentices," said Mr Waugh.
For the winner of the Advanced Apprentice of the Year title, Paul Boulton, his Advanced Apprenticeship in Management and Team Leading in retail proved life changing.
Mr Boulton said: "I started my Apprenticeship unsure of what to expect, or if I would take to it at all. To my surprise, not only did I find that I had a knack for it but that I was actually quite good at it! As my confidence grew in step with my learning and experience, I helped to deliver positive, measureable outcomes for my employer. Apprenticeships have given me much more than skills and work experience; they have given me self-confidence, direction, purpose and have led me to a career path that truly excites me."
Skills and Apprenticeships Minister Kevin Brennan commented: "Apprentices are playing a crucial role in ensuring Britain overcomes the challenging times ahead. That’s why this Government will fund Apprenticeship places for one in five young people by 2020 and make more places available; real help, where our country needs it most.
"These Awards have proved that apprentices are ‘doers’ who make things happen, which is why Apprenticeships remain a key component of the Government’s economic and employment strategy. Better skills provide measureable benefits to people across the country and Apprenticeships are vital to give the competitive edge we need to thrive in the global economy."
The National Apprentice Award 2009 Results
Young Apprentice of the Year
Winner: Mark Jefferson
· Region: Market Harborough, East Midlands
· Sector: Automotive
Apprentice of the Year
Winner: Sinead Smith
· Region: Gloucester, South West
· Sector: Education (Business Administration)
Advanced Apprentice of the Year
Winner: Paul Boulton
· Region: Alfreton, Derbyshire, East Midlands
· Sector: Retail (Charity)
Micro employer of the Year
Winner: Russell Marlow Painting and Decorating
· Region: Worthing, South East
· Sector: Painting and Decorating
Small employer of the Year
Winner: Hendra Healthcare
· Region: Ludlow, West Midlands
· Sector: Health and Social Care
Medium employer of the Year
Winner: Berthon Boat Company Ltd
· Region: Lymington, South East
· Sector: Manufacturing
Large employer of the Year
Winner: Tube Lines Limited
· Region: London
· Sector: Engineering
Macro employer of the Year
· Region: London
· Sector: Engineering and IT