The 18th Annual National Apprenticeship Awards took place on 1st December. Liverpool City Region’s Inspire Children’s Services were finalists for the BCS sponsored SME Employer of the Year. We find out how they got on.

Every year the National Apprenticeship Awards are an exciting occasion. For the first time ever, the awards were a hybrid event. While hundreds of people watched the ceremony online from homes and offices live, finalists and sponsors took to the stage at 30 Euston Square London. Proceedings began as Strictly Come Dancing and BBC star Dan Walker returned to host the Awards for a second year.

The awards recognise employers and apprentices across England at all levels and across all business sectors. Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi and Minister for Skills Alex Burghart were both there at the event, raising the prestigious nature of the awards further.

“I would like to pass on my personal congratulations to all the award winners and highly commended entries. It was a pleasure to attend the ceremony, and to have the opportunity to take part in a celebration which recognises the very best apprenticeship employers and their dedicated and driven apprentices. Apprenticeships are key to supporting the country to level up skills and opportunity, and recognising the commitment of these employers and individuals further highlights their importance,” said Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi.

Inspire Children’s services were finalists in the SME Employer of the Year category after winning the North West Regional finals. The St. Helens based company is a provider of specialist support for vulnerable children. Training Manager Sarah Keogh from Inspire said apprentices are at the heart of their organisation: “If we’ve got well-trained staff in our sector then that means the children in our care will be well looked after, and that’s the most important thing.   It’s all about staff growth and development.”

The SME Employer of the Year category is sponsored by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, who are committed to ensuring everyone’s experience with technology is positive. Part of this mission includes supporting careers to create a diverse and sustainable IT profession with opportunities for development and progression at every step. A further facet is improving education by equipping society with the knowledge, skills and understanding to remain resilient and thrive in the digital world.

BCS carries out the final check to ensure digital apprentices are competent. This is called an end-point-assessment.  13,000 plus digital apprentices have completed this process through BCS. By sponsoring the SME category at the National Apprenticeship Awards, BCS recognises the significant role small and medium-sized employers play when it comes to apprenticeships across all occupations and sectors.  “At a time when there’s a shortage of skilled people across many sectors, apprenticeships are a great way to start or progress a career. There is now also a greater awareness about the availability of a much wider range of employer designed apprenticeships, including those in digital roles, as well in the more traditional sectors such as childcare, retail, hospitality, and construction. Apprenticeships are increasingly seen by employers of all sizes as a fantastic way to develop staff and build their talent pipeline. The National Apprenticeship Awards are so important as they put a spotlight on the achievements of all apprentices and their employers, who deserve to be applauded and celebrated,” comments Annette Allmark, Head of Apprenticeships at BCS.

This year’s winner of the BCS Award for SME Employer of the Year is Lander Automotive Ltd., from the West Midlands. It was a close call and all Regional finalists in that award category can be proud of what they have achieved.

If you would like further information on apprenticeships and how to apply for them, talk to the Apprenticeship Support by Be More Team. They provide impartial information and advice on apprenticeships across the Liverpool City Region.