Gloucestershire College (GC) business administration apprentice Sinead Smith was celebrating this weekend after being crowned Apprentice of the Year at the National Apprenticeship Awards last Thursday at a glittering awards ceremony held at Old Billingsgate in Central London. The Apprentice of the Year award acknowledges exceptional contributions to the workplace.

Sinead was invited to the prestigious ceremony, hosted by rugby World Cup winner Matt Dawson, after being named the South West Apprentice of the Year at a regional ceremony held in Exeter at the end April. The awards attracted over 1,000 entries across a vast range of sectors, from engineering and upholstery to public services and business administration. Sinead, 19, from Podsmead, Gloucester, works for the Admissions and Funds Team at GloucestershireCollege alongside completing her apprenticeship in business administration at the College.

A top achiever and a hard worker, Sinead completed her NVQ Level 2 three months ahead of schedule, achieved 80 percent in her final exam and has now progressed on the NVQ Level 3. Since completing her NVQ Level 2, Sinead has also received an EMAGINE (Ethnic Minorities Achieving Goals in Education) award, has played a vital role in her team winning two internal customer services awards and actively promotes the benefits of apprenticeships to other young people.

Sinead said, “I can’t believe it! Winning the regional award was amazing but to win the national title is unbelievable. When I first started as an apprentice I thought I would be completing mundane tasks until I’d completed my NVQ, but I have been given opportunities to make a real difference within the team and managing my own projects has really helped to boost my confidence and to develop my skills. The awards ceremony was amazing, I was treated like a star for the night - the whole process has been really exciting!”

Sinead continued, “I would definitely recommend the apprenticeship route to young people. I chose an apprenticeship because I didn’t enjoy the classroom environment at school – I wanted to earn a wage, but continue to learn and an apprenticeship offered me that. The hands-on work experience has made me far more independent than I would have been if I’d spent the last two years in the classroom.”

Karen Bishop, Admissions and Funds Manager at the College said, “I’m so proud of Sinead and all of her achievements. Being awarded Apprentice of the Year is such a high accolade and so deserved for all of her hard work. Sinead is a shining example of the success that can be gained through an apprenticeship. Having an apprentice has been so beneficial to the team, so much so that we have now taken on a second apprentice who Sinead will mentor.”

Host Matt Dawson said, "It has been truly inspiring. I believe apprenticeships are tremendously important to Britain's future. They unlock talent and provide a viable, alternative route for individuals to pursue a career and gain personal and professional satisfaction."

Skills and Apprenticeships Minister Kevin Brennan said, “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 measurable benefits to people across the country and Apprenticeships are vital to give the competitive edge we need to thrive in the global economy.”

To find out more about taking on a Gloucestershire College apprentice please contact the Apprenticeship Unit on 01452 563404.

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