From education to employment

Central YMCA celebrates the positive impact which Apprenticeship have in society with event at the House of Commons

Central YMCA’s Annual National Apprenticeship Awards event was an evening of much-awaited and deserved celebration after it had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The event, which usually occurs during National Apprenticeship Week, drew an impressive line-up of politicians from across the House and at every level of Government.

Hosted for the 8th consecutive year by Caroline Nokes MP, and sponsored by CognAssist and the Sanctuary Group, the event showcased the resilience and determination of learners – and their supportive employers – in gaining their qualifications and developing their careers during this challenging time.

Caroline Nokes MP said:

“If there is any organisation in the country that is synonymous with training and apprenticeships, it’s Central YMCA. They are a force to be reckoned with, and absolutely brilliant at not just celebrating apprentices and apprenticeships, but also at celebrating those fantastic employers. We all have to remember that for every apprentice, there is an employer who supports them throughout their training” 

For over 40 years now, Central YMCA, one of the UK’s leading education, health and wellbeing charities, has successfully trained thousands of learners each year and seen them go on to build rewarding and fulfilling careers. Over the past 10 years alone they have supported more than 20,000 apprentices.

Arvinda Gohil, Chief Executive at Central YMCA said:

The extra-ordinary achievements of our learners and the support given to them by partner employers, overlaid with the personal support provided by Central YMCA, enables people from sometimes very difficult and challenging circumstances to realise their aspirations, providing a real opportunity for the future while also impacting their families, their neighbourhoods and society.” 

“We are celebrating the amazing achievements of the people we work with – our learners, our participants, and our partners.” 

The winners

Five inspirational learners and one employer were recognized for their outstanding achievements:

National Apprenticeship Awards 2022 Saffiyah Hussain

Inspirational Pre-Apprentice of the Year: Saffiyah Hussain, 20, Bury  

“The course has helped me to move closer to my dreams of working in the mental health services.” 

National Apprenticeship Awards 2022 - Olivia Tully

Pre-Apprenticeship Learner of the Year: Olivia Tully, 18, London 

“I have been able to meet loads of cool people and be accepted, which was nice. My confidence has gone up a lot, and it’s given me more hope for the future.” 

National Apprenticeship Awards 2022 - Zara McDonald

Apprentice Progression of the Year: Zara McDonald, 40, Birmingham

“I would recommend an apprenticeship to other people because I think in terms of learning and development, it’s a fantastic opportunity.” 

National Apprenticeship Awards 2022 Billy Spencer

Inspirational Apprentice of the Year: Billy Spencer, 19, Doncaster 

“My attitude has changed in the most positive way I could ever have hoped for.” 

National Apprenticeship Awards 2022 - Joanne Childerley

Apprentice of the Year: Joanna Childerley, 36, Cambridgeshire

“I am very proud of myself to have achieved this while bringing up a family.” 

National Apprenticeship Awards 2022 - Employer of the Year Award

Employer of the Year: Brats Day Nursery, Corby 

“We have a really good relationship with YMCA. We wouldn’t use any company other than YMCA for our apprentices.” 

Hearing from our speakers

Ed Miliband MP and Dame Rosie Winterton MP jointly presented Billy Spencer from Doncaster with his award for Inspirational Apprentice of the Year.

Ed Miliband MP, Shadow Secretary of State of Climate Change and Net Zero, said:

“What is really inspiring is that Billy has been determined to make something of his life, and a success of this apprenticeship. The most important thing tonight is Billy’s determination to succeed, and Central YMCA’s central role in helping him to succeed. That is the YMCA in action – making brilliant young people like Billy possible.”  

Dame Rosie Winterton MP, Deputy Speaker, said:

“I have been a long admirer of the work of the YMCA and have been to a number of events… so I know what magnificent work is done, and what an inspiration it is to young people.”  

Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Education Select Committee, presented Zara McDonald with her award for Apprentice Progression of the Year. He said:

“Apprenticeships provide young people – especially from disadvantaged backgrounds – the opportunity to climb the education and skills ‘ladder of opportunity’. They enable young people to earn while they learn, have no debt and get a good skilled job at the end. The work of Central YMCA could not be more important as they have a relentless focus on ensuring that those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds have a chance to access this ladder of opportunity. We have a big skills deficit in this country, but we have a big social justice deficit too. The YMCA has a huge role to play as we build an apprenticeship and skills nation.” 

Alex Burghart MP, Apprenticeship and Skills Minister, presented Joanne Childerley with her award for Apprentice progression of the Year, saying:

“Apprenticeships really are ‘of the moment’… it’s been a long time coming. I have met people that are doing things that, even 10 years ago, people in the public wouldn’t have associated with apprenticeships… women building legal careers through apprenticeships, young men doing Artificial Intelligence digital courses for apprenticeships, but also people who are rebooting their career later in life… this is not just a young person’s sport anymore.”  

“It’s wonderful to see Joanna’s story. It is a great example of how people coming back after having had a family can use apprenticeships to get themselves into the workplace, ‘earn while they learn’, and build up those social and professional contacts that create value for them as they take their career forward.” 

Nigel Huddleston MP, Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Minister, presented Olivia Tully with her award for Inspirational Pre-Apprentice of the Year. He said:

“As Sports Minister, it is my job to champion the role of sports, particularly for young people and in young peoples’ lives. We have heard how important opportunities for skills development are, and the role that sports can play. Thank you to Central YMCA for the apprenticeship program you’re doing, with that particular emphasis on sport.” 

About Central YMCA 

Central YMCA is the world’s first YMCA, established in 1844. As a leading UK education, health and wellbeing charity, we transform lives by breaking down barriers to life-changing opportunities. Our vision is to enable everyone to achieve their potential, live a fulfilled life and contribute positively to society. Our work includes creating alternatives to traditional education such as apprenticeships and study programmes, training fitness professionals who inspire communities, developing qualifications through our awarding organisation and helping people improve their health and wellbeing through the largest gym in central London.

About CognAssist 

CognAssist is an innovative education technology company which provides a solution developed to enable apprenticeship and work-based learning providers to identify, support and help fund learners with additional learning needs. By identifying and supporting neurodiversity, CognAssist will ensure that neurodiverse apprentices have the opportunity to achieve the same success as their peers, thus making the world a more inclusive place.

About Sanctuary 

Established in 1969, Sanctuary is responsible for the provision of social housing, care and management services across England and Scotland. It owns or operates over 105,000 units of accommodation and employs around 13,500 people. Sanctuary operates under a not-for-profit umbrella, with surpluses reinvested into the provision of affordable housing, the maintenance of existing properties, and the development of new services for customers. Sanctuary is an exempt charity under the Charities Act 1993 and is regulated by the Regulator of Social Housing.

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