Leading companies from across the region have been recognised for their commitment to developing a skilled workforce though apprenticeships.  

Prudhoe based global hygiene and health company, Essity UK, was named Large Employer of the Year and Jesmond Beauty Clinic picked up the Small Employer of the Year award at Gateshead College’s annual Edge Awards for apprentices, sponsored by Sterling Pharma Solutions. 

Essity scooped the award for their commitment to developing new local talent through apprenticeships which has enabled the company to successfully tackle a long-term skills shortage. The company was also recognised for the effective management of apprentices to ensure they fulfil their potential, continue to learn and progress within the organisation.

Small Employer of the Year, Jesmond Beauty Clinic’s award was in recognition of its exceptional training for apprentice beauticians who, once fully qualified, are given a full-time role within the salon.

Thirteen apprentices were also recognised at the event for their achievements on their programmes and Holly Blythman, 24, won the Overall Apprentice of the Year award.

During her apprenticeship with ARC Stockton’s Art Centre, Holly played an instrumental part in 'Staying Out', one of the centre’s key programmes for elderly people that was aimed at tackling social isolation in older people. 

Since completing her apprenticeship, Holly has been appointed as ARC’s Creative Learning Assistant and is leading on the Staying Out programme along with working on many other initiatives at the art centre. 

Holly said: “I’m over the moon to win the Overall Apprentice award and I would like to thank my colleagues at ARC who have given me so many amazing opportunities to progress and learn. Also, thank you to my teacher too for her support and advice she’s given me throughout my apprenticeship and beyond. 

“The best thing about my role is working with different age groups and inspiring people to get involved with arts, try new things and have confidence in themselves. I’m really excited about my future at ARC.”

Chris Toon, Acting Principal at Gateshead College, said: “Huge congratulations to our winners. It’s great to see how apprenticeships have transformed the lives of our individual winners, providing them with the skills and attitude to build successful careers. They are all fantastic examples of the positive impact that apprenticeships can have on both individuals and businesses.”  

Ian Callender, Apprentice Team Leader at Essity, said: “We’re delighted to win this award which recognises our investment in apprentices and our future workforce as well as the hard work of our trainees. 


“Apprenticeships have provided a lifeline to the business, helping us to transform how we work and recruit. Our apprentices bring fresh energy, innovation and an eagerness to learn and we couldn’t imagine our business without them. 

“We also appreciate the support Gateshead College has given us which has greatly enabled the success of our training programmes.”

The Edge Awards’ judging panel was made up of local industry experts, which included Jonathan Walker, assistant director of policy at the North East England Chamber of Commerce, John Booth, Recruitment and Training Manager at Go North East and Ivan Jepson, Director of Business Development at Gateshead College.

Gateshead College delivers apprenticeship training to SMEs and large organisations across the North East and beyond. 

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