Britain celebrated the best of its vocational education on Friday night, when the country’s top three apprentices and its six best employers were crowned the winners of the National Apprenticeship Awards.

London’s Grosvenor House hosted a ceremony with the theme ‘Nation of Champions’, which showcased the success stories of individuals and employers.

The victorious apprentices went through a tough process to make the finals, in which they had to demonstrate how they have benefited from their apprenticeship and detail their contribution to their employers’ business objectives.

Charlotte Blowers, from Exceed training academy and salon, won ‘intermediate apprentice of the year’, while Adam Sharp from nuclear decommissioning company Sellafield Ltd picked up the award for ‘advanced apprentice of the year’.

Holly Broadhurst, who works for manufacturer J C Bamford Excavators Ltd, was named ‘higher or degree apprentice of the year’. 

After these individual triumphs, six employers were then recognised for their commitment to apprenticeships at the 13th annual awards ceremony, which was once again run by the National Apprenticeship Service. 

‘Small employer of the year’ went to Ebsford Environmental Ltd, the ‘medium employer’ award was taken home by Troup Bywaters + Anders, and Mercedes-Benz UK won ‘best large employer’. 

‘Macro employer of the year’ was won by Mitie Group Plc, Craggs Energy Ltd was named as ‘best newcomer SME’, and the award for ‘newcomer large employer’ was snaffled by Bond Dickinson LLP. 

Sam Lee, head of recruitment at  Bond Dickinson, said his law firm took on apprentices because it was “the right thing to do; for social mobility, improved staff retention and for the future of our business”. 

The ‘apprentice champion’ award was then handed to John Clarke, a technical manager with BT. 

He was recognised for his commitment to apprenticeships, which included working evenings and weekends to organise career seminars and educational visits to inspire BT apprentices to “make the most of their programme”. 

Skills and apprenticeships minister Robert Halfon told everyone assembled he was “absolutely delighted” to be with them to “celebrate the magnificent achievements of employers and apprentices from up and down the country”.

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