Glasgow organisations J.P. Morgan and Wheatley Group scooped titles at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards 2019, delivered by Skills Development Scotland (SDS).

The employers were recognised for their investment and commitment to apprenticeships at the event, held at the Caird Hall, Dundee on November 7.

Scotland’s largest technology employer, J.P. Morgan was awarded Large Apprentice Employer of the Year, sponsored by SQA.

The firm started its apprenticeship programme in 2015 with seven modern apprentices. Since then, it has expanded its offer and now employs more than 60 graduate apprentices at its world-class centre in Glasgow’s financial services district.

J.P. Morgan’s support of apprentices has been praised as it includes study sessions during work hours to allow apprentices to concentrate on university work, access to technical mentors and coaching where needed.

Apprentices are encouraged to participate in industry talks, events and conferences and are part of a world-wide apprentice network with links to communities from New York to Singapore.

Apprentices are also involved in mentoring people from disadvantaged backgrounds who are working towards computing qualifications.

Speaking of the company’s win, vice president Robbie Allan said: “Our apprentices bring a fresh point of view and it’s great to be able to bring in that junior talent. They’re key for our expansion in the city and Scotland in general.

“It’s brilliant to get some recognition for the programme that we’ve been running for the last four years. Investing in apprenticeships is absolutely the way ahead.”

Scotland’s leading housing, care and property management company Wheatley Group won the Promoting Diversity Large Employer of the Year category, sponsored by Stagecoach.

The organisation manages more than 80,000 homes and delivers services to over 200,000 people across Scotland.

Since recruiting their first apprentices ten years ago, Wheatley Group has changed the lives of 438 people.

Apprentices are at the heart of the organisation – living, working, earning and learning in the communities Wheatley Group serves.

The company aims to recruit 70 new apprentices each year. They include environmental, facilities management, housing and business administration apprentices who are based in local housing offices.

Commenting on the Group’s win learning development coordinator Kirsty MacPherson said: “I was overjoyed when our name was announced. Why consider anything else when it comes to doing apprenticeships? They’re the best move you can make to develop talent within your business and nurture the philosophy of growing your own.

“Wheatley Group are absolutely delighted to win this award. It’s important to us that we recruit a broad spectrum of diversity across our apprentices to represent our customer base.”

Chipboard production plant, Egger (UK), won the SME Employer of the Year award, sponsored by Scottish Chambers of Commerce, at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards.

The Auchinleck employer received its award in front of over 350 guests at the ceremony held at the Caird Hall, Dundee on November 7.

Egger currently has 22 apprentices in its 148 strong workforce and the number is only expected to grow further thanks to involvement in foundation, modern and graduate apprenticeships.

The firm believes apprenticeships have provided them with the ideal way to address an ageing workforce, while helping local young people start their careers.

Modern and graduate apprenticeships are jobs where people can work, learn and earn, while foundation apprenticeships are school subject choices.

Speaking about the win, production and technical director Heiko Lichtblau said: “We didn’t expect to be shortlisted so to win the award is just amazing. It’s all about bringing in fresh blood. There is a skills shortage in the area we operate. We see this not only as investing in people but investing in the region.”

Roslin-based biotech company Ingenza was named Promoting Diversity SME Employer of the Year, sponsored by People Plus.

Since introducing apprentices in 2009, Ingenza’s head of chemistry, Fraser Brown feels modern apprenticeships have been successful for both the company to develop talent and for individuals to work, learn and earn.

The company has 37 permanent staff here and six are current or past apprentices. One apprentice has been with Ingenza for ten years, while others have gone on to management roles within the company.

Fraser said: “We wouldn’t be able to do a lot of our work without our involvement in modern apprenticeships. There are so many benefits of work-based learning and apprenticeships. For example, if someone leaves school in sixth year they can come here and work with specialist equipment that people at university wouldn’t have access to.”

Chair of Skills Development Scotland, Frank Mitchell, said: “More than ever, employers are recognising the benefits of investing in skills and apprenticeships.

"The Scottish Apprenticeship Awards show the value apprentices add to businesses and the economy.

"This year's fantastic winners and finalists show that apprenticeships provide productivity, diversity, fresh talent, and the right skills for Scotland.

“They are all great examples of businesses developing a strong and resilient workforce for the future through apprenticeships."

Apprentices and employers from across Scotland were applauded at the event by Deputy First Minister, John Swinney MSP, who sent a special filmed message to the finalists.

Mr Swinney said: “The Scottish Apprenticeship Awards showcase the best in work-based learning and the finalists represent tens of thousands of apprentices in training throughout Scotland, each with their own story to share and to be proud of.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to meet apprentices across Scotland and I’m always greatly impressed by their dedication, commitment and enthusiasm.

“That is why the Scottish Government continues to invest in the development and delivery of apprenticeships, with more opportunities available than ever before.

“Apprentices have continued to make a positive difference to business and to help underpin Scotland’s economic competitiveness by providing us with the skills we need for today and tomorrow.”

To find out all the winners of the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards, visit www.apprenticeships.scot/awards

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Shown receiving the Large Employer of the Award from category sponsor SQA's Fiona Robertson (left) are J.P. Morgan's Robbie Allan and Shamaila Razaq.