From education to employment

13 of London’s Top Candidates Beat Off Competition In Real Life Apprentice

Fearne Cotton and Skills Minister David Lammy congratulate best of London’s apprentices, employers and education providers

You may think that last night’s episode of the Apprentice on BBC 2 put the contestants through their paces, but that’s nothing compared to the hurdles that this year’s competitors for the 2008 Skills for London Awards have overcome.

Being a real-life apprentice is tougher than the reality-TV version and this year’s winners of the Skills for London Awards proved that they had more than just the ‘gift of the gab’ or the ability to sell wedding cake.

Over 100 candidates from across London battled it out to win today’s accolades which recognised the top apprentices, businesses, and skills providers from across the capital.

Unlike Sir Alan Sugar’s apprentices, these contestants have completed gruelling training courses and will not get a six figure salary straightaway, but they have all secured qualifications which will enable them to get higher paid jobs and move up the career ladder. Top businesses also slogged it out to prove that they provide the best on-the-job training available for their staff to help their businesses succeed.

TV presenter Fearne Cotton and Skills Minister David Lammy MP revealed the 13 ‘hired’ contestants to a packed audience of over 350 people from the education and skills sector.

The 13 winners of this year’s ‘real life’ apprentice competition included single parent Julianna Alli, who supported her three and a half year old son on just £80 a week whilst taking an Apprenticeship in Business Administration. She won the much feted Personal Achiever of the Year Award and her teacher said of her: “Julianna is a real inspiration to young people and is able to be a shining example to them through her line of work at Connexions”.

Another candidate for the Train to Gain Learner of the Year Award, Diana Bruce-Chin, is still learning at the ripe old age of 70 and walks 4 miles to and from the St Michaels Day Nursery each day, where she helps care for young babies. She is living proof that it really is never too late to learn.

Contestants such as these were pitted against the big guns like BT who won the Apprenticeship Large Employer of the Year Award for the second year running for their Apprenticeship programme through which they train 10% of their workforce.

Candidates like the Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability, Coffee Snobs and building firm Leary Brothers were recognised for the outstanding work they do to develop bespoke learning solutions for their staff.

Two Polish women, Katarzyna Brzezinska and Iwona Zamojska overcame language barriers to learn English whilst also gaining NVQ’s in Health and Social Care and Skills for Life qualifications respectively.

LSC Regional Director for London, David Hughes, said:
“Sir Alan Sugar would be impressed by our award winners and candidates; he might even want to hire some of them. They are all bright, intelligent and highly motivated people who have gained vocational skills which will stand them in good stead in today’s competitive business world. This year’s contestants prove that Further Education is now really the training ground for creating the skilled workforce England needs to remain competitive”.

Speaking at the event, Skills Minister David Lammy MP said:
“I am pleased to see so many talented, self-motivated people here today. It shows how much can be achieved when employers provide individuals with opportunities to reach their full potential. Through Apprenticeships and Train to Gain we are giving employers and individuals the support to find the right training to meet their business skills needs. The new skills that these learners bring to their organisations will not only improve their business but the economy as a whole.”

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said:
“I am pleased that there is a general consensus across business and government that training and skills development are essential to both tackling worklessness and developing smooth running efficient organisations. That is why these awards are so important to recognise and showcase what excellent work is being undertaken at all levels and encourage all employers to ensure skills and training are at the top of the list of business objectives.”

The events key sponsor was Knapp Goodwin, a marketing design and events company that applies a wide range of skills to client projects. Chairman Geoff Knapp was very vocal in his support for training:
“With the right encouragement and teaching we can all turn potential into success and make an impact on any business” he said. The winners of the 2008 LSC awards have demonstrated a commitment to developing their people and we are proud to help recognise those achievements.”

The Skills for London Awards 2008 were held at London’s Royal Opera House in Covent Garden today. The awards, organised by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) celebrate the achievements of learners and businesses across London, who have undertaken Apprenticeships or other further education skills training.

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