Gloucestershire College marked National Apprenticeship Week and International Women’s Day with a VIP ceremony at its Gloucester campus when Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills Anne Milton spoke to staff and apprentices. She presented the Further and Higher Education College with the prestigious award, alongside Ian Munro, Area Director for the Association of Colleges (AoC).

Following an in-depth submission and rigorous interviews and assessments as part of the shortlisting process, the College was awarded the AoC Beacon Award for the Promotion and Delivery of Successful Apprenticeships due to its innovative apprenticeships programme.

The award judges were impressed by the success rates of GC’s apprenticeship provision, which is well above the national average, securing Gloucestershire College the enviable position as one of the leading providers in the South West. The College was also acknowledged for expanding the breadth of its apprenticeship provision and working responsively with local employers, the community, schools and business organisations.

The Minister for Apprenticeships presented the award to Trish Burton, Chair of Governors at Gloucestershire College. Anne Milton spoke of her respect and admiration for the College’s advances in their apprenticeship offering, and how they were leading the way nationally in their provision. “I was thrilled to meet apprentices at Gloucestershire College and to present the College with their well-deserved award for outstanding apprenticeship provision – they should be very proud. This National Apprenticeship Week I’ve travelled to Manchester, Leeds, London, York and Gloucester and have heard incredibly inspiring stories from businesses, providers and apprentices working across a huge range of sectors and at all levels. National Apprenticeship Week may be over for this year but every week needs to be about apprentices. We will continue to make sure everyone knows how amazing apprenticeships can be. Whatever your background and wherever you come from they change lives and change business for the better.”

Gloucester MP, Richard Graham, also spoke to the audience about his pride in how Gloucestershire was bucking the national trend and serving its youth with a widespread apprenticeship offering, enabling school leavers to gain both workplace training and College support to greatly enhance their employability – with 9 out of 10 Gloucestershire College apprentices staying with the same employer after finishing their apprenticeship: “When I go around the city, I find apprentices with real confidence. We should all be proud of our great apprentices, their employers and trainers like GlosCol. I’m so pleased that Minister Anne Milton could join us yesterday, as the first female Apprenticeship Minister on International Women’s Day and during National Apprenticeship Week. It’s great that she could meet some of our great apprentices in person.”

Matthew Burgess, Principal and Chief Executive of Gloucestershire College, said: “I am delighted that Anne could take the time out of her very busy schedule in National Apprenticeship Week to present the award to Gloucestershire College. The Beacon Awards are a national event that seek to recognise the very best in innovation, creativity and practice within the sector, so this is a considerable achievement.

“To be recognised nationally for our work in this area reflects not only the outstanding outcomes for the apprentices themselves, but also the impact on the employers’ businesses and the way that the College responds to employer needs in this area.

“This award is recognition of the fantastic work carried out firstly within our Apprenticeship Unit, which leads our work in this area, and also in curriculum areas delivering programmes to our apprentices and, indeed, all areas of the College that support this activity, and I would like to thank everybody involved in this.”

After speaking at the ceremony the Minister took a tour of the College and met several current students including Engineering apprentices Fleur Roberts and George Underwood, whom she talked to at length about their work with employers and the support from GC.

Despite the number of apprenticeship starts being down nationally by 61% since the introduction of the levy, GC’s apprenticeship starts increased by 32%, with an overall success rate of 84% (national average 67% in 2015-16). Gloucestershire College works with over 600 employers from small and medium sized businesses, to locally-based, globalised organisations including Superdry, the NHS, Stuart Holmes Hair and Beauty Salon, Ellenborough Park Hotel, Poeton Industries & Amey. The College’s Apprenticeships’ provision covers Level 2 through to Degree level.

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