Pictured above: Last year's Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards winners and finalists
Around 170 invited guests from across Oxfordshire will this week (18 May) converge on Williams F1 Conference Centre for the county’s annual apprenticeship awards, and they do so as organisers OxLEP reveal major levels of apprenticeship levy – which would otherwise be lost to the county – will remain in Oxfordshire thanks to the organisation, supporting even more apprenticeships to be created.
Over a staggering £750,000 worth of funding has now been secured by OxLEP Skills via one of its major programmes, introduced as part of a number of measures aimed at helping the county’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
OxLEP Skills’ Social Contract programme sees the organisation work with large businesses, subject to the apprenticeship levy – a 0.5% compulsory charge for companies who have an annual pay bill of more than £3 million – encouraging them to pledge their unused levy spend, which can subsequently be used to support small businesses to create their own apprenticeship openings.
Following the announcement, OxLEP Skills are now a significant step closer to meeting a total target of £1.3 million for levy pledges, generated through the Social Contract programme.
The announcement comes as apprentices, business leaders, career leads and training providers from across Oxfordshire get set for one of the biggest nights in the county’s business calendar – the Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards.
A total of 36 finalists will soon discover if they have been named amongst the awards’ winners. The spectacular evening will be held at the home of one of the world’s biggest motor racing teams, Williams Racing – itself an organisation who regularly create apprenticeship openings.
The awards will again shine a light on apprenticeship successes from across Oxfordshire, bringing together young people, companies committed to apprenticeships and those driving-forward opportunities in the county.
Away from the awards – via its Social Contract programme – OxLEP Skills has now successfully worked with a significant number of Oxfordshire’s 220-plus levy paying large businesses, including JDE Banbury (the headline sponsor for this year's Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards), Ridge, Lumen and Pearson, helping the county’s smaller businesses to thrive and create apprenticeship openings of their own, allowing them to ‘grow their talent’.
Funding for the Social Contract programme was secured by OxLEP from the government’s Contain Outbreak Management Fund, via Oxfordshire County Council.
As people this week celebrate apprenticeship success, OxLEP Skills are encouraging even more larger businesses to come forward and pledge their levy spend, ensuring the funding is retained in Oxfordshire.
Sally Andreou – Skills Hub Manager at OxLEP – said: “The significant funding that has been pledged by many large Oxfordshire-based businesses through our Social Contract programme highlights the key role we have played as an organisation and further demonstrates the benefits of apprenticeships to our business community, also ensuring small businesses – who may not otherwise have the financial backing – can still develop their own talent by accessing pledged levy.
“We want to connect with even more levy-paying companies to encourage them to pledge their apprenticeship levy, as well as also engaging in positive discussions with smaller businesses who can utilise this levy to help grow their company through apprenticeships.
“We do this in-particular through our team of apprenticeship advisors who offer a free service to large employers, helping to make levy pledging an easy and simple process for companies.
“More widely, we are delighted to announce this update ahead of this week’s Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards, itself a showpiece event that brings to life just why apprenticeships are so important to the UK economy both now and in the future.”
This year’s Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards will also be livestreamed via the OxLEP website, allowing even more individuals and businesses to discover what apprenticeships can bring to a company.
A full list of award finalists are as follows, selected by a business-led committee representing several key sectors:
Intermediate Apprentice of the Year
Sponsored by Milestone Infrastructure
- Cameron Bastable – Healthcare Support Worker Apprentice, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Timmy Blake Palace – Palace Maintenance Assistant, Blenheim Palace
- Joshua Read-Strahan – Apprentice Sports Coach, Ignite Sport UK
Advanced Apprentice of the Year
Sponsored by Abbott Diabetes Care
- Emilia Callaghan – Events and Hospitality Apprentice, Blenheim Palace
- Kelly Huggard – HR Coordinator, Blenheim Palace
- Cerys Massey – Clinical Services Administrator , Woodstock Surgery
Higher / Degree Apprentice of the Year
Sponsored by Oxford Professional Education
- Chez Bousfield – CAHMS Service Improvement Coordinator, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
- Wendy Matshazi – Learning and Development Lead, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
- Elliot O’Brien – Architectural Apprentice, Jessop and Cook Architects
Special Recognition Award
Sponsored by Hill
- Tiffany Hickman – Finance Apprentice, Blenheim Palace
- Jamie Kavanagh – Insight Analyst, Oxfordshire County Council
- Katie Sweet – Apprentice Technician, JDE Banbury
Rising Star Award
Sponsored by Blenheim and Pye Homes
- Lucy Parsons – Apprentice Finance and Accounting Technician, University of Oxford
- Fi Thomas – Commercial Procurement Apprentice, Oxford City Council
- Jasmine Williams – Spa Apprentice, Minster Mill, Andrew Brownsword Hotel Group
Shining Star Award
Sponsored by IST INTECH
- Jessica Aguirre – Trainee Claims and Inquests Officer, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Nairne Barker – Business Development Executive, Abingdon & Witney College
- Danielle Hoare – HR & Communications Officer, Nuffield Department of Women’s & Reproductive Health, University of Oxford
Apprenticeship Ambassador Award
Sponsored by Activate Apprenticeships
- Grace Dawson – EPA Coordinator, Explosive Learning Solutions
- Jamie Kavanagh – Insight Analyst, Oxfordshire County Council
- Grace Robinson – Apprentice Mechatronic Technician, JDE Banbury
Apprenticeship Employer of the Year (Less Than 250 Employees)
Sponsored by Assure UK
- FMB Oxford
- Oxfordshire Youth
- Williams Jet Tenders
Apprenticeship Employer of the Year (250 or More Employees)
Sponsored by Owen Mumford
- Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
- Oxfordshire County Council
- Taylor & Francis
Inspiring the Future Employer of the Year
Sponsored by Oxford North
- Explosive Learning Solutions
- Hill Group
- Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons
Careers Champion Award
Sponsored by The Engineering Trust
- Claire Christiansen – Careers Lead, Larkmead School
- Andrew Hemming – Assistant Head Teacher, Chilworth House Upper School
- Jackie Mustoe – Careers Lead and Exams Manager, Carterton Community College
Training Provider Individual Award
Sponsored by Oxfordshire Advanced Skills
- Emma Corless – Learning and Development Manager, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
- Iwona Elliott – Learning and Development Lead, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
- Sonia King – Pre-apprentice Training Co-ordinator, ACE Training
Other awards sponsors and supporters for this year include; Darke & Taylor, The Fiona Wheeler Charitable Foundation, High Spec Composites, Oxford University Development, Ridge and Partners LLP, South East Apprenticeship Ambassador Network, Williams Racing and Popham Hairdressing
Watch the Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards live from 7.15pm this Thursday
Find out more on the Social Contract programme, including how to access or pledge apprenticeship levy
You can also follow the awards on social media via the hashtag: #OAAwards2023.