A Day at the Races

As we all know, apprenticeships play a crucial role in shaping the workforce of our future. They empower individuals with practical skills gaining hands-on experience, and to us, they’re somewhat of a no brainer. For those of us that work in apprenticeships everyday whether as employers, training providers, EPAO’s or numerous other professions in this space, we can often overlook the incredible work we do and rarely take the time to celebrate it, it’s just our normal, but the reality is, it’s often remarkable.

This area of thought led OAL down the road of hosting their own awards ceremony, an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the individuals and organisations they work with every day and emphasise the importance of their programs in today’s economy. On the 19th of October at York Racecourse, those thoughts became a reality.

 With over 140 guests in attendance, 9 categories were on offer for the budding finalists. As with all Yorkies, OAL are proud of their Yorkshire roots, but guests travelling from as far as the Isle of White are a fitting example of OAL’s evolution into a nationwide EPAO. The excitement for the day ahead was evident in those that arrived over 45 minutes early, catching the OAL team off guard while making their final preparations. Who can blame them, with a scrumptious afternoon tea on the menu, while overlooking the beautiful racecourse from the windows of the Ebor Suite, named after the course’s famous Ebor festival, one minute of the day ahead could not be missed.

With the aim of motivating current and future apprenticeship ambassadors, The OAL Awards showcased how hard work and perseverance can lead to successful careers with each apprentice award categorized by level as opposed to sector, which is a common trait in regional and national apprenticeship awards ceremonies, a subtly hint to encourage continuous improvement. With each career comes competition, and the desire to receive recognition amongst our peers is one thing that can drive us to excel. The OAL Awards would hopefully motivate the employers and trainers in attendance to go above and beyond their own expectations when training future cohorts. Most apprentices don’t get a graduation ceremony like those on the university pathway. Celebrating apprenticeships with awards ceremonies helps to promote apprenticeship programmes as a prestigious career choice and adds some glitz and glamour to what can often be a challenging on the job experience.

Along with apprentice categories, The OAL Awards offered two Training Provider Categories (SME and Large) and two Employer Categories (SME and Large). It goes without saying that Employers and Training Providers play a pivotal role in the success of apprenticeships and by participating in awards ceremonies they can feel proud of their accomplishments and that of their apprentices. Many Employers and Providers at the event would comment on the inspiration the day had given them to expand their provision and increase the capacity of their future cohorts. The apprenticeship community is in constant discussion over apprenticeship awareness, but the reality is there are only so many apprenticeships available. It’s important that we promote apprenticeship growth in availability as well as accessibility for it to continue to thrive, and celebrations like the OAL Awards seem to do just that. 

Without The OAL Awards many of the employers and providers in attendance would have otherwise never met, to connect and network allows us to share experience and ideas. This community ethos will lead to valuable opportunities and fosters our culture of continuous learning and improvement.

Making up the final two categories at the event was the broad Trainer/Assessor/Mentor (TAM) of the Year and the prominent Diversity and Inclusion Champion. The TAM award received special praise as these individuals are rarely given their time in the spotlight within the apprenticeship community. Employers get to celebrate the achievements of their apprentices, but Providers rarely get the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of their trainers, and any apprentice will tell you they would not get to where they are without their mentors. At OAL the individuals are what make the organisation a success and it was important that The OAL Awards showcase this in a fitting fashion. Equally important is the need for a continuous voice of support towards equity, diversity and inclusion within apprenticeships. By acknowledging the accomplishments of apprentices of different genders, races, and abilities, we reinforce the idea that anyone can succeed in apprenticeships, regardless of their background.

We aspire to innovate and advance our capability to work at the forefront of change, by highlighting an individuals or organisations contribution to universal inclusion we can encourage continued emotional investment. As we continue to celebrate apprenticeships through award ceremonies like The OAL Awards, we contribute to a brighter and prosperous future for both the individuals and organisations that work in apprenticeships.

A massive congratulations to all of the winners at the inaugural OAL Awards.

  • Apprentice of the Year Level 2 – David McNally, City Plumbing, LEAP
  • Apprentice of the Year Level 3 – Phoebe Learoyd, Nestle, University of Lincoln
  • Apprentice of the Year Level 4 and Above – Anna Moy, UK Health Security Agency, University of Lincoln
  • Trainer/Assessor/Mentor of the Year – Ann Lloyd, University of Lincoln
  • Equality and Diversity Champion – Mohammed Koheeallee, Coca-Cola EuroPacific Partners
  • SME Employer of the Year – Chichester Festival Theatre
  • Large Employer of the Year – Coca-Cola EuroPacific Partners
  • SME Provider of the Year – CQM Training and Consultancy
  • Large Provider of the Year – LEAP Apprenticeships and Early Careers