Outstanding Apprentice of the Year – Individual Categories

Construction and Property – Qasim Khattak, Rider Levett Bucknall

Quantity surveyor Qasim started his career at only 19 years old, soon joining Rider Levett Bucknall as an apprentice and becoming a diversity and inclusion business representative at the property consultancy. Now aged 21, Qasim has worked with renowned consultants and contractors across the globe, delivering services for both public and private clients within many sectors, including infrastructure and education.

In 2019, Qasim received the Tim Burden Memorial Prize from his training provider for his outstanding career and academic achievements, having been awarded a construction scholarship with Birmingham City Council the previous year. He is currently attempting to become one of the youngest chartered quantity surveyors worldwide by the end of 2021.

Engineering and Manufacturing – Vicky Curtis, voestalpine

Since joining the level 4 sales executive apprenticeship programme at steel industry company voestalpine, Vicky has consistently produced work of the highest standard. She shows a fantastic understanding of the models and ideas discussed in sessions and is a great source of advice and support, regularly helping other learners with their work.

During the pandemic, Vicky was furloughed and undertook a job at Tesco to top up her income. Despite this, she continued to attend lessons or catch up via recordings and submitted appropriate, high-quality evidence. Vicky also has a thirst for self-learning – she reads countless books and watches TED talks and most importantly applies her learning as often as she can.

Health, Education and Care/Apprentice of the Year – Mohammed Islam, West Midlands Ambulance Service

Mohammed Islam, who is a father of two young children, has worked hard to juggle his parental responsibilities and demanding job while completing the apprenticeship programme to the best of his ability. During national lockdown, he kept up his online teaching sessions with his tutor while caring for his youngest child.

Despite the distraction this could have proven, he showed great determination to complete his apprenticeship. As a key worker also, he has been putting in long hours during the pandemic, making it even more impressive that he has achieved a diploma in healthcare support in just over 12 months, as well as functional skills level 2 qualifications in English and maths.

Professional Services – Isobel Sherrington, EY

Isobel’s eagerness to grasp new business and digital concepts consistently exceeds expectations and she gained her certification in finance, accounting and business on her first attempt.

A keen interest in emerging technologies led Isobel to design an AI tool gaining her a secondment to the tax technology and transformation team at the financial services firm which is very unusual for this stage of an apprentice’s career and is evidence of her curiosity and ambition.https://get-latest.convrse.media/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.birminghammail.co.uk%2Fnews%2Fmidlands-news%2Fbirmingham-apprenticeship-awards-2020-learn-19357153&cre=center&cip=21&view=web

Isobel has demonstrated excellent presentation skills, with a huge turnout at her ‘Technology Insight’ presentations, and leadership when running the firm’s Young Midlands Arts Partnership event and Foundation Smart Futures programme, delivering training content to Year 12 students.

She also recently won the Female Rising Technology Leader award at EY’s International Women’s Day celebrations.

Tech, Digital and Creative Industries – Lauren Alie, PwC

Technology degree apprentice Lauren is a huge advocate for diversity and inclusion in technology. She goes above and beyond to initiate and participate in recruitment and outreach activities, sharing her journey with students and parents at apprenticeship and university events as well as at the financial services firm’s New World New Skills conferences to senior executives.

Lauren particularly encourages apprenticeships among under-represented groups such as females, underprivileged students and ethnic minority students, through Code First Girls, teaching web development to females and as a Black Excellence Network mentor.

This builds awareness and confidence of black students considering university and apprenticeships. During the pandemic, Lauren organised an online ‘Student Summer Sprint’ technology week, targeted at under-represented students.

Always striving to improve and working tirelessly, he has proven to be an inspiration and role model for other apprentices, demonstrating that you can achieve the things you want if you stay focused and prioritise your time.

Team Categories

Small Employer of the Year (1-50 staff) – Tinkerbell’s Cards & Gifts

Andrea and Darren Lamb took over Tinkerbell’s Card Shop in Hednesford around two years ago and immediately decided to employ Eva as an apprentice. With their support, Eva passed her retailer level 2 apprenticeship after which a second apprentice, Megan, joined the business in October 2019.

Unfortunately, the covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the store, forcing a temporary closure. While Eva and Megan were furloughed, they continued to receive support from the owners.

Megan pursued her studies throughout and both have since returned to their roles. Tinkerbell’s utilises the apprenticeship programme in its truest form – to develop and create opportunities for young workers.

Medium Employer of the Year (51-249 staff) – Crimson

After identifying issues around the digital skills gap, Crimson’s solution was to grow its own talent using the apprenticeship scheme and implemented a degree apprenticeship programme in 2019. The company has 91 employees, of which 12 are apprentices, with ten more following this year which will mean apprentices comprise over a fifth of the total workforce.

The IT services and recruitment firm also has a 100 per cent apprentice retention record. Priding itself on creating successful, happy, rounded professionals with a bright future, Crimson looks for raw talent during recruitment, seeking individuals interested in solving business problems using technology who may not necessarily be IT experts.

Large Employer of the Year (250+ staff) – PwC

Financial services firm PwC runs an innovative technology degree apprenticeship programme in partnership with the University of Birmingham which currently contains 120 apprentices who are developing as professionals, technologists and future leaders for the region.

This bespoke degree partnership enables students to experience full-time university life while also benefiting from three work placements, totalling 18 months of high-quality professional experience – a model that allows students to enjoy the best of both worlds as they combine university life and employment.

Training Provider of the Year – Swift ACI

The fact that Swift ACI was nominated by several different parties for this award demonstrates how highly regarded the company is. Its response throughout the covid-19 pandemic has been widely praised.

Staff have demonstrated resilience throughout and adapted to new ways of supporting learners remotely, ensuring they have continued to complete their apprenticeships in a timely manner despite the unprecedented challenges posed.

Education Engagement Award – PwC

Over the course of the year, financial services firm PwC has delivered 43 schools events in the Midlands, showcasing the stories of a range of diverse apprentice and graduate role models. The company has also partnered with organisations such as Ahead Partnership and Teach First to make a sustainable impact on disadvantaged students.

In addition, PwC has delivered in-school business and technology back-to-school workshops to promote apprenticeships and work experience. Its innovation has led to successful initiatives, including collaborations with local universities.

The business aims to break down barriers for disadvantaged students, making top universities and PwC feel accessible and within reach. A combination of on-campus and in-office workshops and tours has provided unique insights into degree apprenticeships.