Cumbria County Council has picked up top recognition for the work it has been doing in training young people through its apprenticeship scheme.
The council has been named North West Apprentice Employer of the Year in a high-profile award which has seen more than 1,500 organisations competing nationally in nine categories.
One of the council's apprentices, Shannon Atkinson, also won the Advanced Apprentice of the Year for the North West region. Shannon is currently completing her Advanced Apprenticeship in Supporting Teaching & Learning in Schools at Derwent Vale Primary School, at Great Clifton near Workington.
At the National Apprentice Service's North West regional finals of the National Apprenticeship Awards and National Training Awards 2012, Cumbria County Council was the only public sector organisation in the North West to pick up an award in any category.
The council was recognised for its work in developing the numbers, range and levels of apprenticeships for young people in Cumbria during the last twelve months and progressing them into employment through effective workforce planning. The council's approach to public/private partnership in the districts was also recognised. Judges also congratulated the council's training providers, Gen 2 and Kendal College, for their 'outstanding'work in providing the highest quality training.
As a regional winner, the council will now put forward to be judged nationally and, if successful in being shortlisted, will be invited to attend the National Apprenticeship Awards at the World Skills Event held at Birmingham NEC in November.
Cllr Elizabeth Mallinson, Cumbria County Council's Cabinet member responsible for organisational development, said:
"It's fantastic that the incredibly hard work of our apprenticeships team has been recognised at such a high level. The county council is committed to investing in young people as, not only does it encourage our youth to continue to live and work in Cumbria, but it also brings new blood into the county council and will help make us better and stronger as an organisation in the future."
Shannon Atkinson said she was "delighted" to win the award, having joined the apprenticeship scheme as a 17 year old in September 2010. After training at Derwent Vale for the last two years, she will start in a permanent position as a teaching assistant in November. She said:
"It's really tough for a young person to find a job at the moment, and you have to show you're willing to put the time in to learn in the workplace. I've gained so much confidence in the last two years and have learned so much about working with others and the business of running a school."
Sue Price Divisional Area Director for the North, from the National Apprenticeship Service, said: "This year's awards were a terrific showcase of the outstanding wealth of talent that we have across the North West. Given the volume and high calibre of entries we received, I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate Cumbria for this superb achievement. They are a testament to the many benefits apprenticeships and training bring to businesses, allowing employers to tap into new raw talent, up-skill their staff and grow."
The National Apprenticeship Awards are sponsored by City & Guilds, Pearson, EAL, Nuclear Decommissioning SLC and BAE Systems. The National Training Awards have City & Guilds as their premier sponsor and also sponsored by Rolls Royce.
For further information contact Gareth Cosslett on 01228 226337.
For general enquiries to Cumbria County Council's communications team contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01228 226338/ 221008/ 226601.