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High Spec Composites win Cherwell Business Awards Apprenticeship of the Year

We were delighted to celebrate the best of Apprenticeships in Cherwell last Friday as proud sponsors of the Cherwell Business Awards ‘Apprenticeship of the Year’ Award for the second year. The award went to Bicester-based High Spec Composites Ltd, with congratulations also going to our fantastic runners-up, both based in Banbury - Karcher UK and United Learning, who employ Apprentices at North Oxfordshire Academy and Hanwell Fields Community School.

High Spec Composites Ltd is a small company near Bicester, founded in 2010 by Managing Director Matt Jaycock and his wife Sarah. The firm manufactures carbon fibre components for a wide range of industries, specialising in components for Formula One and currently supplying to six of the leading F1 teams.

Matt and Sarah decided that they wanted to use Apprentices to grow their new company following their own experiences in the world of work. Having found that employers required both qualifications and work experience, they wanted to give their staff the opportunity to gain both at the start of their careers. They employed their first Apprentice in 2011, soon going on to employ more. High Spec’s Apprentices quickly become part of the team, working alongside qualified technicians and as involved in projects as any other member of staff. They receive first class training and enjoy excellent progression opportunities, both within High Spec and the wider industry.

Sarah said: “We’d like to say a huge thank you for choosing us as the winners of the Apprenticeship of the Year Award 2016; it really does mean the world to us all. High Spec wouldn’t be the company it is today without each and every one of our Apprentices and we see this award as testament to all of their hard work (Ollie is especially proud to have been involved in winning this award!).”

“Over the last five years, Matt and I have had the opportunity to help four Apprentices gain the skills and experience necessary to enter the difficult industry of Motor Sport and to be able to advertise this achievement in the form of such a beautiful trophy is an honour.”

“We’re very proud and excited to now able to display, in pride of place, both the certificate and trophy which recognise how much of an impact Apprenticeships have had on our business! Thank you again for choosing us as the winners and congratulations to all of the other business nominated.”

Our award was presented by Electrical Engineering Apprentice Zoe Adams, who was on the inaugural ‘Apprenticeship of the Year’ winning team last year, Mondelez International in Banbury, who have since become Jacobs Douwe Egberts.

Zoe joined Oxfordshire Apprenticeships last June as an Apprenticeship Ambassador, meaning that she attends careers events with us to talk to young people and their families about what it’s like to be an Apprentice. Zoe was on the judging panel for this year’s award, as we felt that it was important to have an Apprentice’s view on what makes an award winning Apprenticeship scheme. We were also delighted that Zoe would have the opportunity to present the award to the 2016 winner.

Zoe said: “Being on the judging panel this year was very interesting, having been part of the winning team last year, because I got to find out what sorts of things they were looking for in an Apprenticeship award winner. It was also really good to find out about the different Apprenticeships within the area and the sorts of things they offer young people. I feel this will help when I attend other events because I can point potential Apprentices in directions other than engineering.” 

“Presenting the award to this year’s winner was for me a great achievement. When I started my Apprenticeship I was very shy and struggled to speak in front of people, so being an ambassador has improved my self-confidence. This then gave me the chance to do this speech, which was great, if not terrifying at the same time!”

Over 230 people attended the Gala Dinner, which was held in a beautiful marquee in the picturesque Jacobean walled garden of Begbroke Science Park, to celebrate the success of some of the best businesses in North Oxfordshire. It was fantastic to see Apprenticeship schemes celebrated as a mark of success alongside other aspects of business such as innovation and creativity.

With an increase of 13% in Apprenticeship starts in Cherwell during 2014/15 and a quarter of Oxfordshire’s Apprentices living in the district, we’re grateful to the Cherwell Business Awards organising committee for giving us this opportunity to recognise the commitment of local Apprenticeship employers and share good practice.

For a full run down of winners and finalists and photos from the evening, see http://cherwellbusinessawards.co.uk. To see Zoe announcing the award, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lrweVmgKFM