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Meet The Barr Group, Work Experience Employer of the Year at the Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards

The Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards recognised the best talent in the county with a special virtual broadcast on Thursday 1st October 2020.

The new Work Experience Employer of the Year Award was won by The Barr Group, who were praised by sponsor OxLEP Skills for the exceptional investment they make in work experience and the resulting success, the organisation having taken on several Apprentices as a result of a work experience placement.

The Barr Group is an umbrella organisation made up of three companies, StuartBarr CDR (construction, design and renovation) BarrKitchens (bespoke hand-made kitchens) and BarrJoinery (made to measure cabinetry and joinery house). Started in 2002 the organisation has grown organically over the years and is now 100 people strong. The Barr Group welcomed their first work experience student in 2008 and take on average 3 work experience placements each summer.

The organisation ensure that students are fully prepared for their placements, from giving a presentation to the whole year group at their local secondary school to meeting each of their students in advance to explain and discuss the placement.

Charlie Barr, Barr Group Training Co-ordinator, said: “The Barr Group would like to say a huge thank you to OxLEP for the honour of recognising us as a strong work experience provider. We have always seen the program as playing hugely important part of the recruitment cycle - it is vital that young people come into employment with a real understanding of their chosen career and work experience certainly helps to meet that need.”

The Work Experience Employer of the Year Award was sponsored by OxLEP Skills, who work with educators and employers across the county to facilitate careers and enterprise activities that help young people prepare for the world of work.

Charlie Barr said: “OxLEP, as an organisation, is there to support, not just the students and their careers advisors, but also the host companies themselves. For the Barr Group participating in the Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards has given us the opportunity to get to know the OxLEP Skills team and the amazing services they offer to young people and those supporting them. The Barr Group look forward to working with OxLEP in the future.”

OxLEP Skills were impressed with the strong and supportive relationship that The Barr Group have with their local school, Lord Williams's School in Thame.

Work Experience Co-ordinator Rebecca Vaughan said: “Lord Williams's School are most fortunate to have been successfully supported by The Barr Group for the last 15 years. Three students each year gain planned and extensive hands on work experience with Stuart Barr's professional team. Charlie Barr (training co-ordinator) takes time to meet each participating student and establish individual needs. Students' abilities and skill set will be considered then matched to a suitable department for one to one development.”

“The support provided by employees is outstanding and shows total commitment and enthusiasm throughout. Students return to school with confidence and an enormous sense of accomplishment. Many of our students are also successful in gaining sought after Apprenticeships with The Barr Group. The close working relationship between employer and school ensures suitable students are fully prepared for the application and interview process.”

“This inspiring and forward-thinking organisation is supportive, engaging and dedicated to providing valuable and quality experience to young people.”

The Work Experience Employer Award has been developed into the School Engagement Employer Award for 2021, to recognise the other ways in which organisations inspire and inform young people in Oxfordshire's schools and colleges. See the Awards page for full details and an entry form.

Join the conversation

Join us for Oxfordshire Apprenticeships Hour (#OAHour) on Twitter @OxonApprentice from 1pm every Thursday for latest on the Awards and join in the conversation using the hashtag #OAAwards2021.