Dog grooming business wins regional final of National Apprenticeship Awards 2014

October 2014

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(NOTE: This is an archived press release.)

Essex-based dog grooming business, Paw-fect, are celebrating after beating off competition to win the ‘Newcomer Employer of the Year SME’ category at the regional final of the National Apprenticeship Awards in London.

The micro-business, based in Ilford, works with the Writtle College apprenticeships team and has expanded the company by recruiting two Writtle College apprentices; 20-year-old Kirsty Leeder, from Dagenham, an Advanced Apprentice; and 19-year-old Carla Garey, from Dagenham.

Owner Stacy Ismael, 44, is extremely proud of the achievement and said: “We are completely ecstatic about winning such a prestigious award. It is a fantastic achievement for me and the girls and is testament to the hard work that goes on at Paw-fect.

“It is my belief that an apprenticeship programme is the perfect solution for staffing a micro business and I am extremely proud that I have offered two young people the opportunity to train for their chosen career. It has been a joy to see them grow as individuals in the workplace.

“I’m also very thankful to Writtle College and could not have done it all without their apprenticeship team. They’ve been so helpful and have guided me through the scheme step-by-step and supported me with recruitment. Not only that but their communication has also been brilliant and they’ve been heavily involved with the assessments carried out at the shop, which has been a bonus.”

The Writtle College apprenticeships team is managed by Vicky Hitcham and she was equally delighted by the outcomes at awards ceremony: “Paw-Fect are a fantastic example of how the Apprenticeship program can benefit companies of all sizes and support them to grow their business. It has been rewarding supporting Stacey as she expanded the business by training dedicated and enthusiastic apprentices like Kirsty and Carla. ”

Skills Minister Nick Boles said: “Apprenticeships continue to grow in popularity, and events like the National Apprenticeship Awards showcase how beneficial they are to both employers and individuals. It is fast becoming the norm for young people to choose between an Apprenticeship or university as a route to a great career.

“I was delighted to launch the “Get In, Go Far” campaign recently which highlights the huge range available across England. There really has never been a better time to become an apprentice.

“I congratulate all of those who have received an Apprenticeship Award. We all want to make our parents proud as we grow up. The Apprenticeship Award winners will have done just that.”

Jill Lowery, Deputy Director Employer & Delivery Services, London, Skills Funding Agency, added:

“The National Apprenticeship Awards are an excellent platform to recognise and celebrate the dedication shown by all our excellent Apprenticeship employers and apprentices. The quality of entries we have had for the London awards this year has been exceptional. Those who have won should celebrate their success. But every apprentice and employer who entered can be proud of what they have achieved.

“Apprenticeships are at the heart of the Government’s drive to equip people with the skills employers need to grow and compete. A campaign is calling on young people to “Get In, Go Far” by choosing an Apprenticeship and with the huge range available across England, there has never been a better time to become an apprentice. They enable people to gain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed, in some cases up to degree level, while working and earning.

“Apprenticeships continue to grow in popularity, and events like the National Apprenticeship Awards showcase just how beneficial they are for both employers and individuals. I hope everyone who received an award on the night is proud of their achievements, and continues to fly the flag for Apprenticeships throughout their career.”

All the London winners will now proceed through to a final national judging stage, and will have the opportunity to be crowned as the national winner in their category.

The Apprenticeship employer entries that were judged to be the very best of the best will have the additional honour of featuring in the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers list, which will be produced by the National Apprenticeship Service in partnership with City & Guilds.

The Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers and the all national award winners will be revealed during the national ceremony on the 13th November at the LG Arena in Birmingham.

• Writtle College offers Apprenticeships in Agriculture, Animal Care (including Dog Grooming), Environmental Conservation, Equine Studies, Floristry, Horticulture and Veterinary Nursing. To find out more about Apprenticeships, please visit