Apprenticeship talent celebrated


A South Yorkshire construction firm and 16-year-old apprentice from Bradford, were amongst the seven winners to pick up top accolades at this year’s prestigious regional Apprenticeship Awards.

Employers and apprentices are celebrating after receiving the major prizes at Leeds Town Hall in front of over 350 apprentices, employers, business leaders and political figures from across the region last night at a ceremony hosted by BBC presenters Harry Gration and Christa Ackroyd.

Small Employer of the Year - Michael and Margaret Naylor Associates in Sheffield

The firm has dental practices in Sheffield and Rotherham, 37 employees and employs six NVQ Level 3 Oral Health apprentices. It was commended by the regional panel of judges for the infrastructure it has in place to support and train apprentices, and its ability to offer all apprentices excellent progression throughout the organisation.

Medium Employer of the Year - Fosters Bakery in Barnsley

The company employs three apprentices in areas such as business administration, bakery and engineering and provides its Apprenticeships in partnership with Barnsley College.  The judges felt that Fosters Bakery has consistently demonstrated a commitment to Apprenticeships, offers excellent support, learning opportunities and career progression. The panel also praised the company for recognising apprentices as key to its business success and for increasing skill levels across the UK.

Large Employer of the Year - Bramall Construction in Rotherham

The company employs 58 apprentices nationwide in areas such as carpentry, joinery and bricklaying. It was praised by judges for making Apprenticeships the lifeblood of its business and for offering opportunities - particularly to less advantaged groups - allowing them to really turn their lives around. The company’s 18 year old apprentice, Jake Seddon is completing a Plastering Apprenticeship at Barnsley College and was highly commended within the ‘Apprentice of the Year’ category.

Macro Employer of the Year – North Yorkshire County Council

The council employs over 100 apprentices each year in areas such as ICT, health and social care, customer services, youth work and other local services. The strong partnership approach and exemplary model utilised by North Yorkshire County Council greatly impressed the judges, who felt that the organisation really used the Apprenticeship programme to make a difference - offering good progression opportunities and infrastructure to support apprentices.

Young Apprentice of the Year - Uzma Zahid (16) from Bradford

Uzma is currently completing a Retail Apprenticeship through her employer, Marks and Spencer and is also receiving her training at Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise College. The judges commended the outstanding progress she is making in a range of skills and were impressed that her drive and ambition had led to her managers offering her a full time job.

Advanced Apprentice of the Year – Samuel Buckley (21) from Hull

Sam has completed an Advanced Engineering Apprenticeship and Higher Professional Diploma qualification through Hull Training and his local employer, Ideal Boilers. The judges felt he exceeded all expectations with his high level of job awareness and effort. They believe he is yielding good benefits for his employer, by making excellent progress and playing a key part in many work projects. He is regarded as an exceptional apprentice and a real role model for others.

Apprentice of the Year - Stephen Johnson (20)  from Scarborough

Stephen is completing an Engineering Maintenance Apprenticeship through his employer, North Bay Railway Company and his training provider, Yorkshire Rail Academy. The judges commended Stephen’s passion for his job, his effort over and above the requirements of his Apprenticeship, and the significant contribution he makes to increasing revenue for his employer, the North Bay Railway Company.

Organised by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) the regional Apprenticeship Awards are designed to celebrate the achievements of apprentices and the businesses that employ them. The winners will now represent Yorkshire and the Humber and automatically go through to a judging panel for the National Apprenticeship Awards held on July 15 in London. 

Nick Wilson, regional director for the NAS in Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “This year’s awards were a terrific showcase of the outstanding wealth of Apprenticeship talent that we have across Yorkshire and the Humber. Given the volume and high calibre of entries we received, I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the winners for this superb achievement and for their ongoing commitment to Apprenticeships.

“It’s been a tough year for businesses and the economy, but the awards have given Apprenticeships the chance to shine - showing that they are key to growth during the economic upturn. All the finalists demonstrated what makes Apprenticeships so successful, not only in Yorkshire and the Humber but throughout England. The winners are now ambassadors for Apprenticeships and for the region’s dedication to this programme.”

The regional awards were hosted by BBC Look North presenters, Christa Ackroyd and Harry Gration and sponsored by Leeds City Council, LGYH, Leeds City College, NHS Yorkshire and the Humber, Oracle Training Consultants Ltd, IoD Yorkshire and the Humber and Askham Bryan College.

To find out more about Apprenticeships, visit or call 08000 150 600.

By David Parkin - Editor, Yorkshire.