Future of Lancashire’s workforce looking brighter thanks to apprenticeships according to this year’s BIBAs judges

Entrants in the Apprentice Team of the Year Awards in the Be Inspired Business Awards, the BIBAs, are helping to create the skilled workforce the county needs to be fit-for-the-future with vocational training

That’s the view of judges in this category, which is this year sponsored by BAE Systems, itself a major provider of apprenticeships.

The eight finalists looking to win this award are:

Clifton Homecare
Graham Engineering
HAPPA – Horses and Ponies Protection Association
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Leyland Trucks
Preston College
Service Care Solutions
WEC Group

Apprenticeships are seen as an important source of skilled people.

Research by the Lancashire Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) and submitted to the Government in March 2022 found that apprenticeships were the most frequent source of recruitment for 43% of survey respondents.

Rather than prioritise either academic or vocational learning in the education and skills system, businesses that engaged with the Lancashire LSIP research said a hybrid model of the two would be preferable based on employer need, but that more higher level and degree apprenticeships are needed.

As well as helping businesses to recruit new people, apprenticeships are also used as a way to upskill existing employees.

“The organisations that we interviewed in this category are all doing great things with apprenticeships, whether that’s as a way to attract new or retain existing talent,” said judge Adam Withenshaw of sponsors BAE Systems.

“The skills landscape is forever changing, and apprenticeships are a way for businesses and other organisations to keep up with those changes while also creating and sustaining employment opportunities for people of all ages.

“We saw that in all eight finalists. As employers, they were all very committed to the use of apprenticeships as a way to build the workforce they need going forwards while providing a bright future for those they’re supporting with on-the-job learning and vocational training. And the apprentices we met displayed exceptional willingness to learn and to work.

“They certainly didn’t make it easy for us to pick a winner!”

The Scale-Up Business of the Year award, sponsored by Two Zero Lancashire, was another one where judges found it hard to choose between entrants.

The eight businesses to make it into the finals in this category are Adlington Welding Supplies (Adlington Group), LCM Environmental Services, Scope Fire & Security, Serconnect, Sovereign Beverage Company, Standfast & Barracks, STORTEC Engineering and TransformHub.

These fast-growing businesses are all increasing both headcount and turnover, key indicators of scaling businesses.

Amin Vepari, programme manager at Two Zero, a specialist business support service for Lancashire’s scaleup business led by Lancashire County Council, said: “Two Zero’s mission is to help and inspire business leaders to grow their business 20%, create jobs and develop the Lancashire economy.

“The eight businesses we interviewed and visited while judging this award are shining examples of how high-growth businesses have the potential to elevate the whole Lancashire business community. They are all investing in their people and their supply chains, creating fresh opportunities for other businesses and bringing in new skilled workers. We have already engaged with some of this year’s finalists through our scaleup support programmes and hope to be able to help the others as they continue to expand in the coming years.”

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