The achievements of a new generation of London local government apprentices have been celebrated at the London Borough Apprenticeship Awards. The Awards recognise the excellence of apprentices working across London local government in a range of sectors including finance, housing, regeneration, and waste and recycling.
London Councils, the cross-party group which represents the 32 London boroughs and the City of London, hosts the awards on behalf of its members. The awards ceremony was held at Plaisterer’s Hall on Friday 4th November 2022 and celebrated the exceptional impact apprentices have made across local government in London.
London boroughs were also celebrated for their work with contractors and supply chains, which is essential in developing quality apprenticeship opportunities that support apprentices and nurture their skills.
This year marks 12 years since the awards began and saw a particularly diverse cohort of winners who have excelled in enriching and empowering their local communities. This year’s winners also went above and beyond in championing the apprenticeship programmes in their boroughs by raising the profile of apprenticeships, particularly around disadvantaged families, strengthening apprenticeship services, and inspiring companies to hire more apprentices.
Winners this year include an apprentice who volunteered to move to another service to successfully clear a six month backlog and balance the budget, another who ensured his company was reaching out to the local community and providing opportunities and training to people who now see apprenticeships as a viable alternative option to university, and a manager who led with kindness and compassion to inspire her apprentice to excel in the face of huge changes brought about by the pandemic.
Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz OBE, London Councils Executive Member for Skills and Employment, said:
“London Councils is incredibly proud to celebrate the talented winners of this year’s London Borough Apprenticeship Awards. In our 12th year of celebrating the outstanding achievements of apprentices working for London boroughs and their supply chains, boroughs are delighted to play a part in creating opportunities to unleash the talent in our communities.
“Apprenticeships are dynamic examples of how local government can build up and strengthen the communities they represent and serve, and it has been an honour to shine a spotlight on just a few of these winners today.
“These programmes create meaningful opportunities for individuals of all ages, levels of experience, and backgrounds, providing invaluable training and upskilling for a diverse number of career paths. As well as that, it demonstrates our commitment to embedding another talent pipeline for local government too. All of today’s winners are a showcase for the apprenticeship talent that exists, inspiring peers and future apprentices too.”
Notes to editors:
1) Full details of the 2021 London Borough Apprenticeships Awards are below:
Apprentice of the Year – Ryan Robertson-Barnes (Lewisham)
Ryan is a Trainee Admin Assistant in Lewisham’s Environmental Services and joined in March 2021. Ryan was on the frontline, ensuring waste services remained operational during this unprecedented period. His exceptional maturity, initiative and professionalism saw him rise to the challenge and provide incredibly well-received customer service.
His commitment is so outstanding, he volunteered a move during his apprenticeship to Fleet Services where a 6-month invoicing backlog had occurred from staff sickness. Single-handedly, Ryan cleared this backlog and ensured the service drew income and balanced its budget.
He is now adept at imparting knowledge to senior colleagues and is always willing to help team members with urgent deadlines and other priorities. The service has been inspired to take on several more apprentices, and Ryan is credited for demonstrating how successful apprentices can be.
Best Contribution by a New Apprentice – Asiya Mohamud (Hammersmith & Fulham)
Asiya has played an integral role in continuing to reduce the agency spend at H&F through the collation of monthly data to be presented to senior leaders. Through Asiya’s support, identifying and adjusting processes and coordination of multiple stakeholders across H&F, the Council achieved a further reduction on agency spend of £6.5m for year 2021/22.
Asiya has also played a pivotal role in the further development of the H&F Academy programme, particularly with the apprenticeship programme. Leading on apprenticeship network sessions, attending job centre plus events to engage with residents, creating more opportunities for apprenticeships at H&F and supporting hiring managers with recruitment and onboarding which has led to H&F growing their apprenticeship programme.
Best Apprentice working in the Supply Chain: Winner – Kamal Ahmed (Islington)
Kamal’s employer is Higgins Group PLC who work on major construction projects to regenerate housing estates in Islington. Many of these estates are the most deprived in the borough. Kamal has ensured that the contractors’ commitment to support local training and employment opportunities for local residents is received, understood and delivered.
Kamal has been instrumental in raising the profile of apprenticeships amongst some of the boroughs most disadvantaged young people and parents, many of whom are disengaged from the council’s services. Since he started, there has been an increase in local residents from excluded communities signing up for apprenticeship opportunities and viewing this as a genuine alternative to the university route.
Best Progression by an Apprentice: Winner – Akera Okot (Camden)
Akera joined Camden‘s Digital Customer Experience team as an Apprentice Project Manager in 2020, responsible for the management and content design of the Council website. During his apprenticeship, he was redeployed for several months to facilitate a coronavirus testing site. On returning, Akera successfully found a digital solution to encourage more wedding bookings in the Registrars team. A function which spanned weeks now took minutes, making Camden’s wedding service a strong competitor with other boroughs.
Having surpassed all expectations, Akera was promoted to Digital Customer Experience Officer in August 2021 where he’s overseen multiple projects, making online services inclusive and fit for purpose, whilst reflecting the Council’s vision. Akera will be further promoted to Associate Product Manager this summer, but never forgets his apprenticeship background.
Best Apprentice working in Schools: Winner – Brandon Clough (Lewisham)
Brandon joined Edmund Waller Primary School as a Finance Apprentice in April 2021 during a period of great challenge, change and uncertainty in education. He goes above and beyond, providing a high-quality finance admin service. He strongly values sustainability, embedding this in working practices across the organisation. Brandon also volunteers to help coach the school football team and offers his IT skills to upskill colleagues.
He’s also overcome adversity – not able to commence his studies with his training provider for several months due to their enrolment backlog and technical issues. Where others would have been frustrated by this, Brandon handled it with enormous patience, resilience and perseverance. He has quickly become a flourishing asset to the school. His aptitude and enthusiasm for greater responsibility has already led to promotion as HR & Finance Officer.
The Andy Scott Award for Best Manager or Mentor: Winner – Dahlia Parkinson (Lewisham)
Dahlia Parkinson is an employment adviser at Lewisham Council and managed Lisa Lewis, a Business Admin Apprentice, through a huge career change brought about by the pandemic. Through her compassion and uplifting spirit, she has given Lisa a personal growth mind-set and encouraged her to embrace mistakes as learning, resulting in a huge boost in confidence and readiness to try new experiences.
Dahlia was an instrumental part of the creation of Apprentice drop in sessions to promote peer support, improve apprentice wellbeing and facilitate networking amongst Lewisham apprentices to achieve better apprentice work culture.
Lisa says: “I am eternally grateful to have received her mentorship and guidance. I wish that every apprentice is as lucky as I have been to have their own Dahlia Parkinson.”
Best work with supply chains and local businesses to create new apprenticeships: Winner – LB Camden
Camden continues to work closely with its supply chain and local businesses to create good work opportunities for residents. Last year, this secured commitments to deliver 47 apprenticeships, 52 work placements, 122 work experience opportunities and 90 jobs. They secured 26 apprenticeships and 19 work placements through section 106. Camden require all supply chain partners to pay London Living Wage in line with Council apprenticeship pay rates. They encourage flexible, part-time working and guarantee interviews for care leavers or those with LDD.
Through their STEAM programme they work with schools and local businesses to help young people develop the skills they need to access opportunities in the borough’s thriving creative, digital and scientific economy.
They are also working with Islington and Tower Hamlets on a 3-year LIFT programme to help residents into good local jobs and apprenticeships in the knowledge economy.