Birmingham based Lander Automotive Ltd has won SME Employer of the Year at the National Apprenticeship Awards 2021. The BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and RITTech sponsored category celebrates outstanding apprenticeship schemes.

Lander Automotive manufacture fluid carrying and structural tubular products mainly for the automotive sector. In 2015 it decided to recruit apprentices across all areas, not just its core business of engineering, technical and maintenance. It now employs apprentices in sales, purchasing and logistics too. On average, it takes on 15 apprentices into the firm every eight weeks.

Anita Davenport-Brooks, People, Culture & Compliance Manager at Lander Automotive said: ‘I’m thrilled that our company have won this award. Apprentices are at the heart of everything we do at Lander Automotive. It’s fantastic that the success of our extensive apprenticeship programme has been acknowledged and celebrated.’

Lucy Ireland, Managing Director at BCS Learning and Development, presented the award and said: 'All finalists underwent a rigorous judging process. Lander Automotive is a great example of a firm that develops and supports its apprentices across all areas, helping them to thrive in their chosen careers.’

Two other firms, Higgins Partnerships, based in Loughton, Essex, and McCarrick Construction Co Ltd, from Chester-Le-Street, County Durham, were highly commended.

Apprenticeships ‘leading the way’

The Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi, gave the keynote speech at the awards ceremony in central London. He said: ‘Apprenticeships are the living proof about what’s best in our education system. We are entering a new era of the skills economy, which is something that this government regards as an absolute priority.

‘I want to congratulate everyone for being the best of the best. These awards fill me with confidence and optimism for the future. There is even more to come, and apprenticeships are leading the way.’

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BCS carries out the final check-called an end-point assessment - whereby a digital apprentice demonstrates they are thoroughly trained and competent. Around 13,000 digital apprentices have completed this process through BCS so far.

Annette Allmark, Head of Apprenticeships at BCS, said: ‘These awards are a fantastic way to celebrate apprenticeships and promote the opportunities they present to both individuals and employers.

‘With recognised skills shortages in areas including IT and digital skills, no matter how big or small an organisation is, they can benefit from talented apprentices.’

The judging panels chose the regional finalists for nine different categories during November, including Apprentice of the Year. Other sponsors of the National Apprenticeship Awards 2021 include the Army and the Royal Navy, Lloyds Banking Group and BT.

Here's the complete list of all the SME regional finalists - and BCS would like to thank everyone for their participation:

  • North East McCarrick Construction, Chester-Le-Street, County Durham.
  • East Midlands Dental 22, Retford, Nottinghamshire.
  • London Blue Engineering, a structural engineering firm.
  • North West Inspire Children's Services, St Helens, Greater Manchester.
  • East of England Higgins Partnerships, construction and development company, Loughton, Essex.
  • West Midlands Lander Automotive, Birmingham.
  • South West Combe Pafford School, Torquay, Devon.
  • Yorkshire and Humberside Town Hall Group, Dental practice, Brighouse, West Yorkshire.
  • South East MCFT, Commercial kitchen fitters and servicers, Maidenhead, Berkshire.