Apprenticeship awards are a real cause for celebration

THURSDAY 7th February saw Macclesfield College host its second Apprentice of the Year Awards, in recognition of the achievement, commitment and hard work its learners continue to demonstrate whilst studying with its dedicated employer-responsive arm, Maxim Business Training.

More than 40 specially invited guests – including key regional business figures and local employers participating in the College’s far-reaching apprenticeship scheme – attended the event, hosted by Director of Employer Enterprise and Commercial Services, Tracy Cosgrave and taking place in the newly-refurbished Whites Chef Academy restaurant.

There, they were joined by selected College teaching staff – including trainers, tutors and assessors – and members of its Senior Management Team, led by Principal and Chief Executive Rachel Kay. This event was to formally recognise and celebrate the significant progress and achievements made by all students enrolled on the College’s rapidly expanding apprenticeships scheme – officially acknowledged as “Good” by Ofsted back in November 2017 – and, in particular, thirteen very special award winners who have each excelled in their respective subject areas.

These learners included Accounting Apprentice of the Year, Jack Statham, Beauty Apprentice of the Year, Chloë Hill, joint winners of the Business Apprentice of the Year, Ellie Noble and Bethany Lewis, HR Apprentice of the Year, Vicky Williamson, Construction Apprentice of the Year, Charlie Fretwell, Digital Marketing Apprentice of the Year, Natasha Lawson-Edge, Electrical Apprentice of the Year, Jake Wilson, Engineering Apprentice of the Year, Jack Booth, Management Apprentice of the Year, Hazel Power, Motor Vehicle Apprentice of the Year, Marcus Callow and Science Apprentice of the Year, Bethan Haselden.

In presenting these awards, the College’s Director of Employer Enterprise and Commercial Services, Tracy Cosgrave, was particularly keen to stress the level of commitment, endeavour and enthusiasm all of its apprenticeship learners have demonstrated whilst enrolled upon the various courses and programmes devised by the College, in close collaboration with regional industry leaders and employers. This is to ensure that the next generation of work-ready talent is created to help ensure East Cheshire’s continued commercial and economic prosperity and stability.

“Tonight is an evening of celebration,” began Tracy. “It gives us the opportunity to properly recognise and acknowledge the hard work and success of all of our apprentices who are not only studying qualifications, but also working full-time with our valued regional employers who are investing in their futures, by participating in our growing apprenticeship scheme.

“For some of the learners tonight, this apprenticeship represents their first real job. And as well as working and studying full-time, they are also making that difficult transition from school and college to the world of work. For some of the other apprentices, they’re quickly climbing the ladder at work and now they are studying at Levels 2, 3, 4 or 5.

“Whatever their background or the level they are studying at,” Tracy continues, “there is one thing that unites all of our apprentices, and that is they are clearly succeeding in impressing those around them. Each apprentice is here tonight because they have been nominated, either by their employer or tutor. That means busy people have taken their precious time to put pen to paper to ensure our students get the recognition they deserve. Each of our apprentices has shown commitment, determination, promise and maturity beyond their years, and that makes me particularly proud.”

Apprenticeships lie at the very heart of the agenda at Macclesfield College, with a broad-based and vocationally relevant course and programme offering that’s been developed in liaison with local and regional industry.

Despite the continuing slowdown in apprenticeship numbers nationally – in reaction to the Levy imposed by the Government’s Department for Education in April 2017 – Macclesfield College has successfully managed to buck this rather worrying national trend and, vitally, grow its apprentice numbers. Currently, there are over 420 apprentices enrolled on a work-based programme through the College, and that figure is confidently predicted to grow to 1,000 apprentices by 2023.

Furthermore, Maxim has effectively moved all of its apprenticeship programmes from traditional frameworks to high quality standards, to ensure its apprenticeship offer effectively meets the needs of its local employer base. This achievement is all the more remarkable, given the ongoing challenges and constraints colleges like Macclesfield are facing in today’s perennially tough educational climate.            

In speaking at the Apprentice of the Year Awards Evening, Tracy Cosgrave also took the opportunity to praise the contribution made by Principal and Chief Executive, Rachel Kay in taking Macclesfield College’s apprenticeships to new heights of excellence and demonstrable success. “We are very lucky here at Macclesfield College. Some colleges are led by Principals who don’t really understand apprenticeships and work-based learning.

“I have worked with Rachel for a number of years now, and her own background is in work-based learning and apprenticeships. So, from day one, she has been immensely supportive of everything we’ve been trying to do, and apprenticeships are certainly at the forefront of the College. We’re constantly growing, broadening the range that we offer to employers and to apprentices and we’re looking to progress up to Level 5 and 6 apprenticeships as we move forward.”

The star of the evening was undoubtedly the College’s Overall Apprentice of the Year, Harry Nesbit of Direct Food Ingredients. Macclesfield College student Harry – who also recently won the Bronze award in the Apprentice of the Year category at the recent North East Cheshire Business Awards, is a real team-player, described by his employers as a “breath of fresh air who is always happy to help and never one to shirk a challenge.”

“Harry has become an integral part of the team at Direct Food Ingredients,” concludes Tracy Cosgrave. “He always provides a happy and positive outlook around the office and strives to go above and beyond for customers and colleagues alike. He is most definitely a popular and appreciated member of the Direct Food Ingredients family, and he is an absolute star in the eyes of everyone here at Macclesfield College.”