West Nottinghamshire College Group staged a ‘Celebration of Apprenticeships’ in the historic building’s Cholmondeley Room yesterday (Wednesday 15 July) to recognise the hard work and commitment of apprentices and their employers.
Now in its fourth year, the ceremony saw almost 30 outstanding apprentices receive awards and formal congratulations in front of their proud families and employers. They were selected from the college group’s crop of 11,000 apprentices in recognition of their talent, dedication and contribution to their workplace.
The high-profile event was hosted by Professor Lord Patel of Bradford OBE, who joined principal and chief executive Dame Asha Khemka DBE, Sherwood MP Mark Spencer and Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero in presenting engraved glass trophies and certificates to the award-winners from Vision West Nottinghamshire College, its subsidiary company Vision Apprentices and partner training providers.
Keynote speaker was Broxtowe MP and Minister of State for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise, Anna Soubry, while other guests included fellow politicians including Mansfield MP Sir Alan Meale, peers, and senior figures from the further education and skills sector.
Labour life peer Lord Patel said: “Whatever party we represent, we recognise just how vital apprenticeships are to this country’s economic growth and development. Not only do they provide young people with that first vital step into the world of work but they also provide employers with a motivated, committed and talented workforce for the future.
“Today we’re celebrating the best that apprenticeships have to offer.”
Dame Asha Khemka said: “It is always a tremendous honour to congratulate our latest star apprentices in the truly inspirational House of Lords while also celebrating our work with employers to provide the skills and talent for their business to flourish.
“As one of the country’s largest and most successful providers of apprenticeships, we are committed to playing our part in helping the government realise its ambition to create an additional three million apprentices within this parliament.”
Inviting the apprentices to receive their accolades, Dame Asha urged them to “be proud of your achievements and be proud to step up and collect your award today”; adding: “I also pay my gratitude to parents, tutors and employers too.”
Addressing the audience, The Rt Hon Anna Soubry MP said: “The college has achieved so much and is a true centre of excellence. There’s a really hard challenge for the government to create three million more apprentices. It’s a big ask – to both colleges and employers – and we are grateful to everyone who provides the schemes and opportunities for students.
“Some people still see apprenticeships as some kind of second-class training scheme but, as we know, that is simply not the case. Getting an apprenticeship is just as good – some would say even better – than getting a university education.”
Mark Spencer MP said: “The wealth of apprenticeship opportunities at the college is fantastic. For my constituents to have such a great facility on their doorstep is brilliant; not only for the local economy but for employers who are looking for young people with great skills.
“Events like these are really important for recognising the efforts of apprentices and acknowledging that these people have gone a step beyond what’s expected of them on their studies. The college is very good at recognising talent and bringing that talent on.”
Gloria De Piero MP said: “The young men and women I met are making their first steps in the world of work but they are already confident, talented and eager to succeed. With the brilliant support of the college and their employers, I’ve no doubt they will have long and successful careers.”
Sir Alan Meale MP said: “It’s fantastic the apprentices are able to come down to the House of Lords, within the heart of government itself, to receive their awards. It says just how important apprenticeships are to communities; not just in Mansfield but everywhere.
“It’s the responsibility of all politicians and businesses to really drive forward this opportunity for young people. If you want to keep a community progressing, the only way to do that is through skills – and West Notts College has been a major part in delivering that.”