B&FC apprentices and employers recognised at virtual awards ceremony

The current coronavirus pandemic has not deterred Blackpool and The Fylde College (B&FC) from celebrating employer and apprentice achievement, with its 2020 ceremony being held virtually on Thursday 26 March.

A highlight in B&FC’s events calendar, the Apprenticeship Awards are an opportunity to recognise and reward exceptional contributions made by the College’s apprentices and their employers. Hosting the event virtually meant the College could proceed with its celebrations while continuing to observe Public Health England’s social distancing guidelines.

Confirmed attendees were notified beforehand that the awards would take place virtually and, on the day of the ceremony, emailed a live link to the event itself. The Apprenticeship Awards were introduced by Principal and Chief Executive Bev Robinson OBE, while Linda Dean - Executive Director of B&FC for Business, the College’s commercial arm - announced the winners.

The event got underway with B&FC’s Apprentice of the Year Award, for which there were 18 nominees from employers such as the Federation of Small Businesses and Blackpool Council. The award went to Ashley Shooter from local, family-run salad production company Ingle's Dawndew Salad Ltd.

Other winners included Laura Zakubinska from Headstart - Blackpool Council (Apprentice of the Year – Highly Commended Award) and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals’ Clare Johnson, named Higher Apprentice of the Year and singled out as “an inspiration and an ambassador for the apprenticeship programme”.

Through B&FC for Business, the College has links with over 1,800 employers locally, regionally and nationally across a wide variety of industry sectors.
It forges close working partnerships with them to co-create workforce development strategies that ensure the College is delivering training and education to meet their needs and support their growth. This high level of collaboration was recognised at the 2020 Apprenticeship Awards with four awards to employers.

The SME Employer of the Year Award was made to Holders Sheet Metal. The Blackpool-based firm, with over 50 years’ experience of bespoke fabrications in steel and aluminium, received praise for its “proactive approach to planning programme delivery” along with its “strong, enthusiastic mentoring”. Family-run company Bambers Remedial Contractors received a Highly Commended Award.

Blackpool Transport – the Blackpool Council owned bus and tram operator - was named Large Employer of the Year, after being said to have “fully embraced the potential of a well-planned and nurturing apprenticeship programme as an integral part of their business strategy”. The Highly Commended Award went to independent motor vehicle repairer KC Autos.

Principal Bev Robinson congratulated the winners and urged all nominees to be immensely proud to have been recognised at the awards, adding: “We look forward to the time when we can once again celebrate apprentice and employer achievements with you in person.”