Why are apprenticeship awards important, and how do you apply?

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Many industries are fond of rolling out the red carpet and rewarding their brightest and best. The world of apprenticeships is no exception, and there are several apprenticeship awards ceremonies, which provide recognition for apprentices and employers alike.

Here we’ll look at the kind of awards you can apply for, and the categories available. We’ll also look at who can enter, how to enter, and the reasons why it’s good to get nominated for – and ideally win – an apprenticeship award.

Key points:

  • There are numerous benefits to receiving an apprenticeship award nomination – including recognition for hard work, a well-deserved confidence boost, and enhancing the CV.
  • When applying, there are several well-known awards bodies worth considering, including government-backed apprenticeship awards in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  • You don’t usually have to pay to enter or nominate someone for an award. You will need to fill in an application though, which should clearly demonstrate why you or your nominee deserve to win.

Why would I apply for an apprenticeship award?

There are many good reasons to apply for an award, or to be nominated by a colleague or employer. Whether it’s for performing your job well, or for promoting apprenticeships, an award can confer numerous benefits – and here are just a few.

#1. Recognition for your hard work

First and foremost, an award nomination is recognition of a job well done. While excelling in the workplace is often its own reward, it’s obviously better to be recognised and commended than taken for granted. A nomination shows you’re performing exceptionally, and getting rightly noticed for it.

#2. Boost your confidence

Even being nominated for an award, let alone winning one, can work wonders for people’s morale and self-worth. And this boost can also be channelled back into the workplace, leading on to better opportunities.

#3. Add value to your CV

Understandably, award-winning job applicants are very appealing to prospective employers. If you’ve been awarded for going over and above in your role, then this could be just what you need to help an employer choose you over another applicant.

Awards aren’t only for individuals – they celebrate organisations and employers too. And while these may not recognise you personally, it certainly won’t hurt to have an award-winning employer on your CV.

#4. It can open other doors

Winning an award can bring about other benefits you might not expect. The recognition of being an award-winner might lead to invitations to speak at industry events, which, in turn, can be another confidence boost.

#5. You get to attend a ceremony

Let’s not forget the event itself. You may be invited to the awards ceremony, which is a good chance to meet like-minded people in your industry. And maybe even have a bit of fun. Plus, some awards may have regional finals, with the possibility of going through to a national ceremony. The National Apprenticeship Awards, for instance, build towards a national celebration event in London.

Which are the best-known apprenticeship awards?

If you’re thinking of applying for an award, it’s a good idea to target the most respected. Government-backed apprenticeship awards, for example, come with a certain degree of kudos.

The National Apprenticeship Awards is run by the government’s Education and Skills Funding Agency in England. In Wales, the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru are funded and run by the Welsh Government. The Scottish Apprenticeship Awards is organised by the Scottish Government’s Skills Development Scotland agency. And the Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Awards are put on by the Department for the Economy.

Other well-known apprenticeship awards include:

  • The AAC Apprenticeship Awards, which – in addition to common awards categories – has an award for each of 15 sectors. These include care services, construction, agriculture, transport and logistics, and digital apprenticeships.
  • The BAME Apprenticeship Awards, which celebrate talent and diversity in the workplace.
  • The RateMyApprenticeship Awards, now in its seventh year, which brings together apprentices, employers, schools and training providers.

What are the awards categories?

There are usually several categories both for employers and apprentices. The categories which follow are those used at the National Apprenticeship Awards, which are typical.

Awards categories for employers

There is a selection of Employer of the Year categories, including:

  • SME Employer of the Year. This is for small and medium-sized enterprises, which is any organisation with 1 to 249 employees.
  • Large Employer of the Year. This is for companies with 250 to 4,999 employees.
  • Macro Employer of the Year. Organisations with 5,000 or more employees can be entered for this award.

In addition, there’s an award for Recruitment Excellence, which will be selected from the Employer of the Year entries. The winner will be an organisation that has been recognised for recruiting a diverse, high-quality workforce of apprentices.

Awards categories for apprentices

There is also a selection of Apprentice of the Year categories, including:

  • Intermediate Level. This is for apprentices at level 2.
  • Advanced Level. For apprentices at level 3.
  • Higher or Degree Level. This is for apprentices at level 4 or above.
  • Rising Star. This is for apprentices who’ve been nominated by their employer, recognising excellent performance in their career so far – and a high likelihood of progressing further. The Apprenticeship Awards Cymru has a similar award, called Tomorrow’s Talent.
  • Apprentice Champion. Nominated by colleagues or contacts, this award recognises those who’ve gone above and beyond in championing apprenticeships.

Here are just some of the awards our apprentices at TSW have been nominated for, and won! 

How are the awards judged?

The awards tend to have panels of judges with specific experience and expertise. The specific criteria the judges are looking for will vary, depending on the award. But generally speaking, they will be looking for apprentices who can demonstrate not only significant achievements in performance, but also contribution and impact made within the organisation. In other words, it’s not just about – say – impressive sales figures, but it’s also about being a valued team player.

How do I apply for an award?

Awards organisations tend to have online forms to fill out in order to apply. Be sure to check the entry criteria first. Some awards may require nominations from employers, colleagues, or contacts. With other awards, you may be able to put yourself forward.

Certain sections have a word count, so use these wisely. Try to be clear, concise and provide evidence of any particular success stories – providing figures where possible. Have you helped to add to your organisation’s bottom line? Make sure you put it in! You may even be able to upload charts, graphs or tables to help quantify information.

Do I need to pay to enter?

Apprenticeship awards tend to attract high-profile sponsors, which usually means that you won’t have to pay anything – whether that’s the initial entry fee, or attending the actual ceremony.

The main government apprenticeship awards are all free to enter. But for any apprenticeship awards you may be thinking of submitting an application or nomination for, always be sure to check the terms and conditions beforehand.

Find out more about our apprenticeships on our blog, or apply for an apprenticeship in Wales here.

Picture of Amanda Bathory-Griffiths
Amanda Bathory-Griffiths
Amanda is TSW's Head of Marketing. Her articles are largely about the benefits of professional development investment.
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