Finalists announced ahead of Cherwell apprenticeship awards

Apprentices Zoe Buckett, Sophie Overton, with Joanne Thorne. NNL-160316-094438001
Apprentices Zoe Buckett, Sophie Overton, with Joanne Thorne. NNL-160316-094438001

The finalists of the Cherwell Apprenticeship of the Year Award have been announced by Oxfordshire Apprenticeships, who are sponsors for the second year.

The winner will be announced at the Cherwell Business Awards gala dinner on May 20 at Begbroke Science Park and the three battling it out for the top prize are Karcher in Banbury, High Spec Composites Ltd in Bicester and United Learning, who employ apprentices through North Oxfordshire Academy and Hanwell Fields Community Prumary School.

From L-R: Apprentices Luke Jennings and Megan Wilkes with Beverley Rees. NNL-160316-094427001

From L-R: Apprentices Luke Jennings and Megan Wilkes with Beverley Rees. NNL-160316-094427001

Beverly Rees, learning & development manager at Kärcher, said: “We are delighted that Kärcher have been selected in the final three for the Apprenticeship Program Award with CBA. Kärcher believe that our employees are our most important asset so we are working very hard to ensure that our apprenticeship opportunity continues to be a robust and exciting program that will cause bright young people to aspire to join our company.”

The finalists were chosen by a panel of judges that included a member of the Oxfordshire Skills Board and a current Apprentice. Judges were looking for evidence of;

Using recruitment processes to encourage applications from a diverse and inclusive range of candidates

Providing an opportunity that has offered an Apprentice exceptional personal development and mentoring support

Matt Jaycock, Oliver Heffer (Apprentice), Sarah Jaycock NNL-160316-094416001

Matt Jaycock, Oliver Heffer (Apprentice), Sarah Jaycock NNL-160316-094416001

Where an Apprentice has been empowered to make significant contribution to business success/growth

Provision of additional learning opportunities above and beyond training provided by the apprentice training provider

Evidence of a positive onward journey, either through retention by the employer, or progression post-Apprenticeship

The award was won in 2015 by Mondelez International – now Jacob Douwe Egberts – in Banbury.

Sara Jaycock, executive director at High Spec Composites Ltd, said: “We are incredibly excited and proud to be a finalist in this year’s Cherwell Business Awards. We hope that by being a finalist we can show other small local businesses just how easy and beneficial workplace apprenticeships can be, especially for new start-ups.

“We also hope this award and all media coverage of it will help to advertise and encourage local students to consider apprenticeships as a route into otherwise difficult to enter industries, such as motor sports.”

Joanne Thorne, business, enterprise & career development at North Oxfordshire Academy, added: “United Learning is delighted to have been selected as a finalist for the Cherwell Business Awards for our Apprenticeship Programme running at North Oxfordshire Academy and Hanwell Fields schools.

Being selected helps amplify all the great work that goes on behind the scenes to make the programme such a success:  all the staff who line manage and support the apprentices on a day to day basis, the teaching staff who value and seamlessly integrate apprentices into their classrooms and those staff involved in talent acquisition to ensure that the right candidates are selected who will relish and run with this opportunity.”

All three organisations have hosted the ‘Apprenticeship Torch’, an Olympic style-symbol of the passing of skills and knowledge from employers to the next generation.

The Torch is touring the Thames Valley as part of a promotional campaign to support the national drive on Apprenticeships and also includes an employer business breakfast at Darke & Taylor in Kidlington on April 1, where employers can find out all about Apprenticeships and how to get started.

Sarah Cullimore, of Oxfordshire Apprenticeships, said: “All three companies can be proud of being selected as finalists for this award and for providing high-quality Apprenticeship opportunities. An increasing number of businesses in Cherwell are realising the benefits of recruiting apprentices and it is tremendously encouraging to see an increasingly diverse range of organisations invest in the scheme, as reflected in our three finalists.”

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis added: “I was so pleased to read about the shortlisted finalists for Cherwell Business Award’s ‘Apprenticeship of the Year’ award. I know all of the finalists, and have met many of their apprentices. I think it is fantastic that this shortlist includes a global brand, a specialist composites firm, and a school; and they come from across the constituency.

“During National Apprenticeship Week I can think of no better time to highlight how rewarding employing an apprentice can be for companies. Apprenticeships are a really useful route into work for young people, and a great way to earn an income and learn new skills. I wish everyone shortlisted the best of luck at the awards, and look forward to working closely with you – and your apprentices – in the years to come.”

For more information follow @ApprenticeTorch on Twitter.