Search Starts for the Top Apprentice Employer of the Year

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The search is on for the nation’s top apprentice employers as the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) launches its fifth annual Apprenticeship Awards. Employers of all sizes and from all sectors of industry are being asked to enter the prestigious national awards.

Speaking at the launch in London, skills minister David Lammy MP, said: "Apprenticeships are integral to combating the nation’s skills shortages. They stimulate innovation, give businesses the skills they need and provide opportunities for individuals to fulfil their potential.

"The government has recently announced that there will be 500,000 new Apprenticeship places by 2020 so that even more employers and individuals can reap the benefits. The apprenticeship programme makes a real difference to all concerned."

The awards are held annually to celebrate the success of apprentices who have made a real difference to their own future and to the organisation they work for. They also recognise the work of employers who are successfully tackling skills shortages to build their future workforce through apprenticeships.

Chris Banks, chair of the LSC added: "Apprenticeships are a more attractive option than ever before for those employers wanting to take control of the future of their business by investing in skills. Today, more than 130,000 employers across the country are using apprenticeships to improve their business performance, whilst giving talented individuals the opportunity to achieve their goals.

The awards highlight the popularity of apprenticeships amongst employers of all sizes, with past winners including BAE Systems and British Gas in the large employer category, with telecoms giant BT winning in 2007.

Talking of their win, Dave Walsh, head of BT apprenticeships commented: "Winning Large Employer of the Year 2007 was a great tribute to BT’s investment in our apprentices. Our apprenticeship programme is crucial for future proofing our business, delivering a clear return on investment. We will definitely be entering again this year."

Entries to the awards have increased year on year and the LSC now receives around 4,000 entries. Employers are eligible to enter for one of four categories depending on their company size; micro (1-9 employees), small (10-49 employees), medium (50-249 employees) and large (250+ employees). They are assessed on a number of criteria including implementation of the apprenticeship programme, clear demonstration of the way apprenticeships have benefited their business and the level of support provided to their apprentices.

There are also four categories open to apprentices - Apprentice of the Year, Advanced Apprentice of the Year, Young Apprentice of the Year and Personal Achiever of the Year.

To enter the Awards, or for more information, visit apprenticeships.org.uk/awards or call 0800 954 8896. Deadline for entries is 29 February 2008.

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