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Oxfordshire County Council win Large Apprenticeship Employer of the Year at the Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards

Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) is the local authority for Oxfordshire, committed to delivering top quality services and value for money on behalf of the county's 600,000+ residents.

OCC provides a wide range of services, including education, social services, highway maintenance, emergency planning, consumer protection, town and country planning, waste and disposal management and more – making it one of the largest employers in Oxfordshire. Delivering 80% of services in the county, working in local government has never been more interesting and challenging, offering talented people the opportunity to innovate, use their skills and expertise and make a real difference to the people of Oxfordshire.

OCC currently employs 118 Apprentices, with 200 Apprentices enrolling on Apprenticeship schemes in the Council in the last 5 years. They offer a wide range of schemes in roles as diverse as Rehabilitation Worker, Paralegal, Intelligence Operations and Senior Leadership, ranging from level 2 to level 7.

A key principle of the OCC Apprenticeships Plan 2017-21, which aims to significantly increase the numbers of Apprenticeships in their workforce, is to use Apprenticeships to strengthen equality, diversity and inclusion. They focus recruitment of new entrants on younger people, as they have an ageing workforce profile and Apprenticeships offer a way to address the imbalance. OCC actively seeks applications from young people who have been looked after by a local authority and offers guaranteed interviews for any care leaver who meets their minimum selection criteria. The Council is also proud to be Stonewall diversity champion and a Disability Confident employer.

Apprentices receive exceptional mentoring and support from day 1, including access to in-house training and ‘well at work’ programmes outside their Apprenticeship. Apprentices are encouraged and supported to make social connections, through the organisation of buddy schemes and regular group activities to bring them together.

The Apprenticeship Employer of the Year (50+ employees) Award was sponsored by Barclays, who were keen to sponsor this category as a large Apprenticeship employer themselves. The Award was presented by Trevor French, Head of Mid Corporate for Barclays Thames Valley, who explains why Oxfordshire County Council were selected as the winner amongst some very strong competition: “They provide a wide range of Apprenticeships in different roles and at different levels and provide flexibility to change roles if the employee’s initial choice does not work out. OCC proactively seek to recruit from a wide variety of sources including those from disadvantaged backgrounds to attract a diverse workforce. We also saw excellent support and mentoring offered to their Apprentices and an opportunity for Apprentices to get involved in promoting schemes internally and externally.”

The Award was collected by Organisational Development Consultant Rose Rolle-Rowan, who manages Oxfordshire County Council’s Apprenticeship scheme. She said: “It was a wonderful award to collect on a special night for all Apprentice employers in Oxfordshire. The Council aims to provide a supportive environment for all of our Apprentices, to enable them to thrive during their time with us and to have that approach recognised is very rewarding - both for those of us in HR supporting Apprenticeships and for our wonderful Apprentice managers. Our Apprentices represent the future workforce in local government and we are immensely proud of everything they have achieved.”

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The success of Oxfordshire County Council’s Apprentices and former Apprentices on the night was a testament to them as an Apprenticeship employer. Administrative Support Officer Nairne Barker won Advanced Apprentice and Overall Apprentice of the Year, Civil Engineer Adam Barrett won the Shining Star Award, Data Analyst Apprentice Frederika Kaja won the Special Recognition Award and Robin Morrisen, a Business Administration Apprentice working in the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Team, was highly commended in the Intermediate Apprentice of the Year Award.

See our article for details of all the winning and highly commended entrants.