The crucial role that apprentices play by ensuring staff succession was emphasised at an awards ceremony at Reaseheath College last week.
The ceremony celebrated the achievement of 180 apprentices who gained their qualifications at the Nantwich, Cheshire, specialist college in the past year.
Reaseheath currently trains over 450 apprentices who work in businesses throughout Cheshire and surrounding counties. Most attend college weekly and spend the rest of the week earning and training in the workplace. Although the majority are aged between 16 and 24, Reaseheath also offers adult apprenticeships for those aged over 25.
The scheme is supported by 226 employers including councils, golf clubs, garden maintenance companies, kennels, pet shops, livery stables, florists, farms and the food, construction and timber industries.
Addressing an audience which included employers and family members, Reaseheath Vice Principal Dave Kynaston congratulated the apprentices and their companies for investing in meaningful and valued qualifications which would boost productivity and ensure the future of the UK’s skilled workforce.
He emphasised that apprenticeships had gained favour with both employers and the government and that recruitment was at an all time high, with 850,000 apprentices in the UK.
Guest speaker John Hurst, who oversees management of 15,000 acres for Co-operative Farms and is responsible for the company’s graduate training scheme, said that The Co-operative was working with Reaseheath to ensure that there was a succession of trained and skilled employees within the company who would fill the skills gap when older workers retired.
The agricultural industry was becoming increasingly technical and it was essential that employees were trained in the operation of sophisticated machinery and equipment. His company appreciated the support given by Reaseheath to its training programme.
Also on the podium was Level 3 agriculture apprentice Jordan Kenyon, last year’s Apprentice of the Year, who described his progress as a herdsman with dairy farmer Martin Wheelton of Gawsworth near Macclesfield. His career had moved fast and he now managed two staff and was looking forward to managing a dairy unit or possibly studying business to a higher level.
Top honours of the evening went to Apprentice of the Year Adam Hughes, a plant maintenance engineer for Gunn JCB, and to Advanced Apprentice of the Year Lyndsay Jones, a production operator and machine setter for Aimia Foods, a food and beverages manufacturer.
Both were selected for their commitment to their studies and the quality of their college work, and for their outstanding contribution to their employers’ businesses.
Adam , 20, works at Gunn JCB’s West Bromwich depot. He has been with the company for three years, has completed his Level 2 Diploma in Work Based Learning and has progressed to Level 3. Reaseheath has a long standing training partnership with Gunn JCB and trains apprentices from the company every year.
Lyndsay, 47, is a production operator and machine setter at Aimia Food’s Haydock base, a position which requires him to take full responsibility over three people and five production lines. Since completing his apprenticeship he has come up with many suggestions which could benefit his company, resulting in him winning an innovation award and being nominated for the title of ‘Employee of the Year’.
Other principle winners were:
Best Agriculture Apprentice: Adam Brown, 26, who works as an Anaerobic Digestion (AD) technician on Reaseheath’s demonstration AD plant. Adam’s duties include guided tours for local farming and community groups, allied businesses and undergraduates. He is also employed on his family’s dairy farm in Holmes Chapel.
Best Construction Apprentice (Brickwork): Charlie Emms, 19, who is employed by M E Parker, a company which specialises in steel shed erection on rural farms in Shropshire. Making the most of his brickworking skills, Charlie carries out the blockwork and helps to erect the steel structure.
Best Construction Apprentice (Joinery): Ed Oliver, 18, who works for Hallworth Construction (Cheshire). The Northwich company specialises in new build and employs up to 14 staff. Ed joined the company on leaving school and is one of five apprentices to have completed qualifications at Reaseheath.
Best Horticulture Apprentice: Marcus Burke, 25, of Runcorn, a member of the landscape services team at Halton Borough Council. Marcus is one of a team who maintain the borough’s green spaces including showpiece flower beds and parks in Runcorn and Widnes. Reaseheath trains apprentices for many local authorities including Cheshire East Council, Cheshire West and Chester Council Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council .
Best Food Apprentice: Stephen Halliwell, 30, a blending operator with Aimia Foods
Certificates of Excellence:
Sam Lindop (Smilers Building and Groundwork)
Matthew Williams (Ewson Contractors)
Ben Hardwick ((J C Building Service)
Danny Lucock (Halton Borough Council)
Chris Smith (Halton Borough Council)
Jon Hetherington (Halton Borough Council)
Certificates of Endeavour:
Matthew Canner ((A & M Construction)
Tom Spibey (R S Developments Construction)
Darren Huxley (Hill Cross Joinery Ltd)
Certificates for Outstanding Achievement:
Rod Hughes (Holdcroft and Sons)
Joe Hughes (Holdcroft and Sons)
For further details of apprenticeships contact Reaseheath’s Workforce Development team: 01270 613257