Awards for apprentices and employers from Yeovil and surrounding area

This is The West Country: Twenty-five outstanding apprentices received prizes, along with six top employers. Twenty-five outstanding apprentices received prizes, along with six top employers.

APPRENTICES and employers from across Somerset, Dorset and the South West have won awards at the third annual Yeovil College and North Dorset Technical College Apprenticeship Awards.

Twenty-five outstanding apprentices received prizes in a range of categories, highlighting the varied apprenticeships available across the college.

They included ICT, customer service, clinical healthcare, healthcare support services, engineering, hospitality and catering, hair and beauty, plumbing, carpentry, electrical installation and fire and security systems. 

For the first time, awards were presented to motor vehicle apprentices, representing the new Yeovil College Motor Vehicle Training Centre, which opened earlier this year.

Fergus Dalwood, 20, of Gillingham was presented with the Intermediate Apprenticeship (Level 2) Carpentry award. 

He said: “College is amazing! I got so much help and support on my apprenticeship.  There’s some great teaching there too. 

"I decided to do an apprenticeship because my dad works at the college and gave me an insight into what it’s all about. It sounded like a good idea that would mean I gained real skills for life, so I went for it.”

As part of the ceremony, feedback from employers and lecturers was read out as each apprentice winner went on stage, highlighting the pride felt by many about the students’ achievements.

Pathways Health & Social Care Alliance employee Liz Tyrer, 21, of Yeovil won the Advanced Apprenticeship in Healthcare Support Services award. 

Practice Manager Liz Jagelman said: “Liz’s commitment to her course and her work at Yeovil Health Centre has been truly commendable and receiving this award is a real credit to Liz and to Yeovil Health Centre.”

Due to the high calibre of nominees for the top awards this year, two additional prizes were presented.  These Certificates of Commendation went to Level 2 Childcare Apprentice Ellie Collins, 18, of Martock and Level 3 Print Apprentice Luke Brown, 20, of Sherborne.

Ellie worked for Farmer Jane’s, while Luke was employed by PrintaSleeve Ltd.

This year’s Intermediate (Level 2) Apprentice of the Year was Robin Jones, 20, of Bridport, who qualified in Performing Manufacturing Operations with Fat Leaf Ltd. 

The Advanced (Level 3) Apprentice of the Year was Kimberley Dodge, 23, of Halstock, a Business Administration Apprentice who worked for Yeovil College.

Six exceptional employers were also recognised for the key role they play in supporting and nurturing apprentices. 

The Commitment to Apprenticeships Award went to Honeywell Aerospace, while the Employer of the Year (SME) award was presented to Intelligent Enterprise Products.

Somerset Care received the Employer of the Year (Large) award, while the Best New Employer title went to Yarlington Housing Group. 

The Commitment to Skills Development (Commercial) title was awarded to the Wessex Group, while Dorset County Council was highlighted for Commitment to Skills Development (Public Sector). 

Yeovil College is grateful to AP Chant and Porter Dodson for sponsoring the Employer of the Year awards this year.

The event was attended by apprentices’ friends and family, senior College staff and local dignitaries, as well as representatives of the National Apprenticeship Service, Skills Funding Agency and Somerset Chamber of Commerce. 

The guest speaker was Simon Banks, Group Managing Director of the CSL DualCom Group.

He said: “I work with apprentices and heavily support apprenticeships.  I know from experience that apprentices want to work. Colleges want to teach and employers' attitudes are more accepting of apprentices than ever before.

"I hear many employers saying that they can’t find the staff they want and the expertise they need.  Employers need to be patient and grow their own talent. 

"Businesses are looking for a viable investment, competency and retention of investment.  Of course businesses need to be profitable, which is why employers often worry about apprentices leaving once they’re trained. 

"In the first year of an apprenticeship, an employer is likely to break even.  In the second, they start making money.

"But by the third year, if an employer is not paying a realistic salary, their investment is likely to be disenfranchised or be enticed away by a competitor, thus losing the skills and knowledge they’ve acquired.

"Employers need to start investing in fresh talent, whether that’s with apprentices or graduates!”

Yeovil College principal James Hampton was the last speaker of the evening. 

He said: “This year is a little different for me as I am retiring at Christmas, making this my last Apprenticeship awards evening.  No matter how many times I come to awards evenings – and I have been to lots – they are always among the very best bits of the job. 

"This one in particular is special because there are so many direct and tangible benefits; to the apprentices themselves, of course, and to the employers, but also to the future of our region and country."

For more information about apprenticeships and training for businesses, visit www.yeovil.ac.uk or call 01935 845392.

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