Shrewsbury Colleges Group has held its third Apprenticeship Awards to celebrate the achievements of both apprentices training across a range of sectors and their employers who support them to ensure their success.

Large group of apprentices holding certificates either side of the College’s Head of Apprenticeships.

At a three-course gala dinner and ceremony held at the College’s training restaurant Origins last night, 11 awards were handed out, including the Apprentice of the Year Award, Small Employer of the Year Award and Large Employer of the Year Award.

A panel of judges chose the winners from the nominations put forward by assessors and employers; judging against criteria including commitment, contribution and success within the role.
James Cockerham-Barker, from Shrewsbury, a 19-year-old apprentice with BMW Rybrook Shrewsbury, scooped the overall prize as the Apprentice of the Year.

Before opening the gold envelope to reveal the winner, Mark Brown, Head of Apprenticeships at Shrewsbury Colleges Group, said: “Tonight we are here to celebrate exceptional apprentices and their employers. It is humbling to witness first-hand the excellent standard out there. A sincere thank you to all the apprentices, the assessors and their teachers at the College and also the employers who make such a difference to our local economy.”

Steve Lloyd, Motor Vehicle Assessor at SCG, said: “James came to me a couple of years ago and joined as an apprentice half way through the first year and within weeks started to shine. He settled in quickly and with determination and ability completed his Level 2 Diploma 3 months early.

“The College runs a Realistic Working Environment, where we service and repair some of the staff cars to gain good experience of road going vehicles. There were about 15 students in the class and when I asked for a volunteer to complete a job on a staff car, James would straight away be asking what needed doing to the vehicle. I knew I could then leave the new student with James to complete the vehicle.

“James was quietly ambitious, and, one weekend decided to tour around the dealerships in the Shrewsbury area. This led to an interview with Peter at BMW Rybrook and he was taken on. This is where I thought I would lose James to the BMW training school, but Peter was so impressed by James’s interview he asked if we could carry on training James to give him the full rounded Apprenticeship package.

“James completed the Level 3 Advanced Diploma and BMW Rybrook were so impressed by him that they asked to meet other students from us. James has now been asked to train as a Master Technician with BMW, of which there are only 35 in the country to date, such is his thirst for learning.
“This has also led to BMW Rybrook working closely with the College to give Special Educational Needs and Disabilities students a placement at the garage to gain experience in the industry. All down to James.”

James Cockerham-Barker said: “I just want to thank my manager Peter Powell and Steve Lloyd, my assessor. I’m so surprised I wasn’t expecting to win. It feels really good to win Apprentice of the Year.”

Seven other apprentices also went home with awards on Thursday night: Matthew Parton, an apprentice with Whittingham Riddell LLP, won the Accounting Award; Rob Lamie, an apprentice with Shrewsbury Colleges Group, won the Management Award; Joseph Heath, an apprentice with BH Plumbing and Heating, won the Plumbing Award; Alison Evans, an apprentice with RJAH Orthopaedic Hospital, won the Early Years Award; joint winners for the Carpentry award were Craig Thornton, an apprentice with M E Bishop Carpentry Ltd, and James Arrowsmith, an apprentice with SJ Richards Limited; James Cockerham-Barker, an apprentice with BMW Rybrook Shrewsbury, also won the Motor Vehicle Award and Andrew Wall,, an apprentice with Caterpillar Shrewsbury Ltd, won the Engineering Award.

Winner of the Large Employer of the Year Award was Ricoh, which provides document services, consulting, software and hardware to businesses around the world. Winner of the Small Employer of the Year Award was A R Manley & Sons Ltd an joinery manufacturers, based in Rodington, which offers a unique combination of traditional skills with the latest techniques and equipment to produce bespoke joinery of the highest quality.

Claire Shepherd from Ricoh, said: “Ricoh were so delighted to hear that we have been awarded ‘Large Apprentice Employer of the Year’ and the fact that our contributions towards the development of young people has been externally recognised is such a huge achievement.

“We’re really proud of our Apprenticeship and as a company, we are really passionate about the development of our future talent, huge thank you to the Team at Shrewsbury Colleges Group for all your guidance and support and we look forward to working in partnership with the college again in the future.”

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