The employer winners on the evening included; EPOSability Ltd based in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, Orchid Pubs and Dining, based in St Albans, The Arcana Group of Salons based in Milton Keynes and Liebherr GB Ltd based in Biggleswade. Apprentices presented with awards included Leanne Ingledew from MBDA in Stevenage and Ryan Iddon from Argos Home Retail Group in Milton Keynes.

EPOSability Ltd, an IT services company, was presented with the regional Small Employer of the Year award. It has provided three permanent positions to past apprentices and currently employs three apprentices.

Michael Ayers, Director, Project and Programme Manager, was delighted by their National Apprenticeship Awards success and said: “All our apprentices have arrived with enthusiasm and a desire to learn; we have been quick to benefit. Apprenticeships are now a core part of our growth strategy.”

Pub company Orchid Pubs and Dining, was presented with the regional Apprenticeship Employer Newcomer of the Year and already has over 200 apprentices. Tracy Read, Head of Training and Communications, said: “Since introducing Apprenticeships to our business 18 months ago the ripples of our talent pool are increasing, with development, service excellence and pride.”

The Arcana Group of Salons in Milton Keynes was presented with the regional Medium Employer of the Year Award. Debbie Elderton, General Manager, said: “Apprentices are an important and highly valued asset to our company. We cannot now imagine business without them, they are critical to the daily routine.”

Liebherr GB Ltd, based in Stratton Business Park in Biggleswade, was presented with the award for the regional Large Employer of the Year. Responsible for selling, servicing, maintaining and supporting Liebherr Construction Plant Machinery and Cranes, the company currently employees 23 apprentices across different parts of the business.

Lee Mason, Apprentice Programme Manager, said: “We are justifiably proud of our apprentice programme. It has given us a ‘grow your own’ approach and enabled us to offer opportunities to enthusiastic young people.”

Argos Home Retail Group in Milton Keynes saw their nominated apprentice Ryan Iddon presented with the regional Intermediate Apprentice of the Year award. The 21-year-old, started out on his Apprenticeship path after getting a part time job at Argos when he was 16. Now part of the management team he said: “I’ve become an advocate for Apprenticeships, promoting them within the company and became Argos Apprentice of the Year.”

Leanne Ingledew, an apprentice at MBDA in Stevenage, was presented with the regional Advanced Apprentice of the Year award. Leanne’s employer MBDA was highly commended in the regional Large Employer of the Year category and three other apprentices from the company were also recognised at the awards. Also highly commended on the evening were; John O’Conner (Grounds Maintenance) Ltd in Welwyn, Hertfordshire and the hotel, restaurant and coffee shop operator Whitbread which has its headquarters in Dunstable.

All the Central Eastern winners will proceed through to a final national judging stage, and the Apprenticeship employer entries judged to be the very best of the best will have the additional honour of featuring in the acclaimed England’s Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers list, which will be produced by NAS in partnership with City & Guilds. The Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers and the national award winners will be revealed during the opening ceremony of the UK’s largest national skills and careers event, The Skills Show, at the NEC in Birmingham on 14 November.

Karen Woodward, NAS Divisional Area Director for the Central Division, said: “The Central Eastern final of the National Apprenticeship Awards was a fantastic evening of celebration, and a brilliant opportunity to recognise the high calibre of apprentices and employers in our region.

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the exceptional individuals and employers who had such inspiring stories to tell. Apprenticeships allow employers to grow their own talent, and allow apprentices to earn while they learn and build a real careers and bright futures. All our finalists are testament to this. It is unfortunate that we can only have one winner, as so many entries deserved the prize.”

The Central Eastern Regional Ceremony was sponsored by Monarch Aircraft Engineering, Dacorum Borough Council, MBDA, KEITS Training Services Ltd, The Cambridge Belfry and BRE.

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