From education to employment

EPAO owner named in 100 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch

Helen Shinner, 1st for EPA

The owner of an end point assessment organisation (EPAO) has been named in a new 100 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch list. The list, created by The Telegraph and NatWest, celebrates female entrepreneurship in the UK. It recognises women in business who are pushing boundaries, redefining success and inspiring others.

Helen Shinner, owner of 1st for EPA, has been commended in the Education category in the list, which was published today.

Since its creation in 2019, 1st for EPA has gone on to win several awards. Most notably, Best New Business and Best Services Business in the 2022 Tees New Business Awards, Small Business of the Year in the 2022 Tees Businesswomen Awards and Best New Business in the 2021 Tees Businesswomen Awards.

The apprentice assessment organisation works with over 1000 employers and apprenticeship training providers across England, including household names such as JD Group, Poundland and The Trainline. It boasts a hugely impressive 98 per cent first-time pass rate, which it puts down to its supportive approach to apprentices, employers, and training providers.

In the recognition, Helen was told, “Your creativity, innovation and perseverance through difficult economic times, and your potential for future growth have made you stand out from other female entrepreneurs, and impressed our esteemed panel of judges.”

Speaking about the list, NatWest Group CEO, Alison Rose said, “Getting more funding to female entrepreneurs and unlocking their untapped potential continues to be a priority across our industry.

“Last year – and for the first time ever – women have started businesses at a faster rate than men. These companies need support to grow, as this could add an extra £250 billion to the UK economy if women start and scale companies at the same rate as men. The 100 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch will celebrate female entrepreneurship and highlight the support that is needed for women business owners to succeed.”

The judging panel included key members from the Rose Review Board, featuring Debbie Wosskow MBE, co-founder of AllBright, and Jenny Tooth OBE, chief executive at UK Business Angels Association, as well as The Telegraph’s executive lifestyle editor, Caroline Barrett-Haigh, and its deputy head of lifestyle and weekend, Victoria Young; and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) director Sandra Garlick.

1st for EPA quickly became a leading EPAO with apprentices and training providers for its ongoing support, detailed guidance, and feedback for both apprentices and providers. The EPAO regularly posts articles to create transparency in EPA and support apprentices to achieve.

Helen Shinner said, “It’s an honour to be recognised amongst so many inspiring women in business.

“My team and I have a real passion for what we do. We receive countless kind words from apprentices who have completed their apprenticeship and gone on to be promoted, or take on more responsibility. We understand how daunting exams can be and knowing we make a difference is fantastic.

“Watching our journey from a small start-up business a couple of years ago, to now a multi-award-winning organisation, we’re so proud of how far we’ve come and we’re looking forward to continuing to grow not only our business, but the skills of others too.”

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