Awards night honour for firm that puts focus on young people
A COMPANY which has employed 11 apprentices and is set to take on three more has been honoured at a Weston College awards evening.
Alliance Homes won Construction Employer of the Year at the college's Excellence in Business Training Awards 2012 which honoured businesses and apprentices,
Alliance Homes business enterprise manager Michael Williams said: "We are a business that is about helping communities and it is essential to support young people in them."
One of their apprentices, Abigail Nicholas, 22, of Exford Close on the Coronation Estate in Weston, was highly commended in the voluntary sector learner of the year award.
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Weston College principal and chief executive Dr Paul Phillips OBE shared the celebrations with more than 220 employers and learners at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Congresbury.
Since last year the number of apprentices at Weston College has risen by 113 per cent and its Business Enterprise Centre works with more than 1,000 employers in the South West. It provides more than 40 apprenticeship programmes in North Somerset and Bristol with 80 per cent becoming permanent employees.
One of the college's close partners is North Somerset Council and its chief executive Graham Turner was the keynote speaker.
Hayley Gibson, 19, of Holmlea, Portishead, is an apprentice at Specsavers in Weston, and won business learner of the year.
She said: "I love my job and it was an amazing surprise to win. With the support of my company and College I aim to be a contact lens optician."
Brad Edrich, 17, of Bristol Road, Highbridge scooped two awards, hospitality learner of the year award and principal awards learner of the year.
Brad is an apprentice at Clavelshay Barn Restaurant in North Petherton near Bridgwater and has become so proficient he is virtually running starter and dessert sections.
He said: "I've wanted to be a chef since I started cooking with my Nana when I was six years old. One day I want my own restaurant."
A tearful Zoe Parsons, of Lakehouse Nursery at Portishead Lake Grounds, was the childcare and education employer of the year. The 35-year-old was overjoyed to win having opened her nursery just 18 months ago and taken on three Weston College apprentices.
She said: "I was a manager for blue chip companies for many years but was always passionate about pre-school education and when I had my daughters decided to start my own nursery.
"I work with a fantastic team and we have 150 children attending. I am thrilled to win this and we have an excellent partnership with Weston College."
Other businesses honoured for their training partnership with Weston College included Weston Hospice Care, Freelance Surgical Ltd, Wrington, Annagram Estate Agents, Windwhistle Primary School and The Restore Trust, which trains ex-offenders.
Dr Phillips said: "Our motto is that the learner comes first, and this is assisted by the tremendous partnerships we've made with business, and the efforts of the learners themselves."