01/02/2011

Top NI Apprentices Sought

Construction sector apprentices are in for a boost with the tenth annual search for Northern Ireland's Apprentice of the Year accolade just launched by the Stormont Employment and Learning Minister, Danny Kennedy.

Highlighting the significance of the awards, Mr Kennedy said: "These awards recognise the dedication of apprentices who are taking their future into their own hands, and celebrates the encouragement of employers who, with their training partners, are investing in the skills of the workforce.

"Apprentices can be the life-blood of many an organisation. This competition provides the opportunity for public recognition of the exceptionally high standards that some apprentices have reached in their chosen fields.

"My Department is committed to the development of a highly skilled and innovative workforce in Northern Ireland. Employers who invest in their workforce and provide the opportunity for their trainees to develop new skills and abilities reap many tangible rewards.

"Experience has shown that during times of economic downturn such companies are in the strongest position to gain competitive advantage as the economy recovers. In fact, research shows that these companies are two and a half times more likely to survive," he said, noting that he is encouraging all apprentices, employers and training partners to gain the recognition they deserve by entering the competition.

"The quantity and standard of entries to this competition year on year demonstrates the high esteem in which the apprenticeship programme is held and acknowledges the important role of employers, training suppliers and the apprentice in the training process," he said.

The 2011 award categories are: Apprentice of the Year; Most Promising First Year Apprentice; Personal Achievement Apprentice; and Partnership Award (for Employers and Training Suppliers).

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in the Europa Hotel, Belfast on Thursday 19 May 2011.

(BMcC/GK)

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