“Outstanding” employers and individuals have been recognised at this year’s National Apprenticeship Awards – including a Great Ormond Street Hospital apprentice who has been on the frontline in the battle against Covid-19.

The ten winners and 18 highly commended finalists (see table below) were named at the awards, which are in their 17th year and took place this evening as an online ceremony, hosted by BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker. 

Education secretary Gavin Williamson gave his congratulations to the winners, saying: “The National Apprenticeships Awards are a brilliant opportunity to showcase the power of apprenticeships to transform lives and businesses, while helping people of all ages and backgrounds to get ahead. 

“It’s fantastic to see so many excellent examples of employers of all sizes continuing to embrace the benefits apprenticeships have to offer, and all the apprentices who have gone above and beyond.” 

The awards are organised by the government and decided upon by a panel of judges, which this year included Health Education England’s national programme manager for apprenticeships Lucy Hunte and BAME apprenticeships advocate Isa Mutlib.

The winners of the individual awards, which cover the different levels of programme such as intermediate or higher, include apprentices from the Ministry of Defence, a local council, leading technology company IBM, and pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. 

While the winners of the employer awards, which cover different sizes of employers such as small-to-medium enterprises and large employers, include operators of the new Crossrail network MTR Elizabeth Line, defence company BAE Systems, and County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service. 

The fire and rescue service’s head of people and organisational development Katherine Metcalfe said they were “absolutely delighted” to have been recognised “for our commitment to apprenticeships across our organisations”. 

They were the first fire and rescue service in the country to offer firefighter apprenticeships, and are about to start their fourth cohort of apprentices. 

Katherine added: “To see our programme be successful make us feel extremely proud.” 

In addition to the individual and employer awards, the efforts of apprentices to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic were also recognised with a special recognition award, which was run in association with the armed forces.  

Employers could submit nominations for the award, which eventually went to Great Ormond Street Hospital apprentice healthcare support worker Amber James, who the Department for Education said had worked on the frontline as a clinical support worker at London’s Nightingale Hospital at the city’s Excel centre. 

She is now due to start a degree apprenticeship in registered nursing. 

The Education and Skills Funding Agency’s director of apprenticeships Peter Mucklow called her “a wonderful example of how apprentices have contributed during the pandemic and she thoroughly deserves her special recognition award”.  

He continued: “The number and quality of entries this year was outstanding, demonstrating the importance of apprenticeships for employers and individuals alike.” 

Mucklow thanked all of the over 1,100 entrants for “taking time to share their apprenticeship journey”. 

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said: “With such strong competition in businesses right across the country, the winners of this year’s National Apprenticeship Awards should hold their heads up high.” 

Employer categories

The BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, Award for SME Employer of the Year
Troup Bywaters + Anders
Highly Commended
Snow-Camp Charity
Crimson Limited
The British Army Award for Large Employer of the Year
WEC Group Ltd
Highly Commended
MTR Elizabeth Line
Home Group Ltd
The QA Award for Macro Employer of the Year
BAE Systems plc
Highly Commended
Royal Air Force
United Utilities
The Accenture Award for Recruitment Excellence
County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service
Highly Commended
Mitchells & Butlers
MTR Elizabeth Line


Individual categories

The AstraZeneca Award for Intermediate Apprentice of the Year
Maisey Hammond
Stroud District Council
Highly Commended
Aron Marshall
Joshua Foord
Sunbelt Rentals
The BT Award for Advanced Apprentice of the Year
Chris Jones
J.C. Bamford Excavators Limited
Highly Commended
Scott Murton
Ministry of Defence – Submarine Delivery Agency
Emma Sisman
The Royal Navy Award for Higher or Degree Apprentice of the Year
Laurie Weatherall
Highly Commended
Harriet Willsher
Manoj Vadher
Royal Mail
The Lloyds Banking Group Award for Rising Star of the Year
Howard Jackson
Highly Commended
Nihal Dhillon
J C Bamford Excavators Limited
Jordan Brosnan
Coca-Cola European Partners
The Royal Air Force Award for Apprentice Champion of the Year
Jenny Taylor
Highly Commended
Paula McMahon
Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd
Alison Galvin
  • Special recognition award – Amber James, Great Ormond Street Hospital

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