A night of opportunity to mark National Apprenticeship Week

To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week 2017, we held our annual YMCA Apprenticeship Awards last night in the House of Commons.
7 March 2017

The evening was a night of both celebration and trepidation. The theme was ‘An Opportunity for Change’ and we wanted to mark the achievements of our apprentices, tutors and employers, whilst also recognising the massive changes coming - an area we can help with.

Welcoming expert speakers

Caroline Nokes MP, the long standing and much-appreciated sponsor for our annual awards, welcomed the packed room, heaping praise on Central YMCA and the work we do in apprenticeships.


"If you want something done, you ask someone from YMCA."
Caroline Nokes MP

Our CEO Rosi was next to take to the podium to begin giving out the awards. She reminded guests that the YMCA movement was started 174 years ago by an apprentice.

She went on to warn that we were on the brink of the next revolution - ‘the rise of the robots’.


"35% of jobs currently available in the UK will be obsolete in 20 years, so when YMCA Training considers what’s next for young people we had to think about this carefully. What are the jobs that might prevail?"
Rosi Prescott, Chief Executive of Central YMCA

Rosi spoke about the industries that require relational, social and creative skills as ones we must focus on and prepare our young people for in order to ensure their skills remain relevant in an ever-changing world.

Celebrating our winners

The first award of the night went to ‘Employer of the year’ Tinysaurus Nursery which encourages children to learn through play. Rosi spoke about for their ‘devotion to the idea of apprenticeships before it gained prominence’ with 50% of their workforce now apprentices.

Next up was the ‘Longstanding Commitment to Apprenticeships’ award which went to Man Utd. We’ve been working with Man Utd for the past 25 years, delivering apprenticeships in horticulture and wanted to recognise all the Club’s hard work for apprentices through its training academy.

We were delighted to then welcome MP David Lammy, who set up National Apprenticeship Week during his role as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, to present the next few awards.


"I consider creating Apprenticeship Week as my greatest achievement in politics."
David Lammy MP

David spoke about championing apprenticeships through the course of his career and the need to celebrate the young people doing them expressing his gratitude on how far we’ve all come.

He presented Ella Buckley with the ‘Pre Apprentice of the Year’ award for her work in Horticulture. She is currently on a  on a Traineeship at Dunham Massey Hall and Gardens.

"Looking back, training has improved my confidence in dealing with new situations and new people.”
Pre Apprentice of the Year Ella Buckley

He is also presented Philip Start with the Apprentice of the Year Award. Philip enrolled onto a YMCA Fit Level 2 Gym Instructor Apprenticeship in September 2015 and completed in September 2016 where he simultaneously worked as an apprentice Fitness Instructor at Abbeycroft Leisure, Suffolk.

"Phil is always positive, happy and focused on being the best he can be and I am extremely proud of him for being awarded Apprentice of the Year 2017.”
YMCA Training Tutor Kevin James

Rt Hon Lord Heseltine CH, Vice President of the Royal Horticultural Society, joined us later in the evening. After a little bit of car trouble we were very grateful he was able to make it. He spoke about the importance of horticulture and how it can be about more than just gardening.

"Horticulture develops a sense of ownership.. it grows it flowers.. it is the beginning of a journey of owning something that matters to you because you did it."
Lord Heseltine

What’s next for apprenticeships?

The evening saw the launch of our Opportunity for Change report. The report focuses on the opportunities in education as a whole and how, through our employer research, we discovered both the opportunity to develop with higher level apprenticeships allowing motivated young people the opportunity to grow, and an opportunity to develop flexible training programmes that can adapt and change according to the needs of a digital era.

We know there is still confusion surrounding apprenticeships, the reforms and the levy. That’s why, throughout March and April we will be holding a number of FREE events nationally so businesses can hear from expert speakers, network with others and ask any questions they may have about how the reforms can be an opportunity for change.

Find your nearest event here.