BUSINESSES large and small are being encouraged to enter the first Worcestershire Apprenticeship Awards.

There are 12 awards up for grabs in the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Apprenticeship Awards which recognises top talent in the county.

Among them is Worcestershire Apprentice Employer of the Year, sponsored by Worcester Bosch, and is awarded to the overall winner from three categories.

The award recognises employers who have shown outstanding commitment and contribution to the success of their apprentices.

There are three further awards for Large business provider of the year for businesses with more than 250 employees, Medium business provider of the year, sponsored by e.Response for businesses with more than 50 but less than 250 employees and small business provider of the year for

businesses with less than 50 employees.

Carl Arntzen, Managing Director of Worcester Bosch Group, said: “Apprentices are a vital part of the Worcester Bosch Group business so we are naturally delighted to be sponsoring the WLEP Worcestershire Apprenticeship Awards.

“We have been actively employing apprentices in a number of key areas for many years. We feel it is important to offer apprenticeships that provide a clear career path, specialist knowledge and opportunities for progression whilst providing scope for continuing education and personal development.

"This helps the company build a broad skills base to safeguard business growth and ensure a continuous flow of new ideas that help drive innovation and improvements in our products and services.”

Businesses already offering apprenticeships in the county include ISO Quality Services Ltd, Worcester, which began employing apprentices as a way of recruiting team members with the qualities they needed.

Vestia Community Trust, part of The Community Housing Group, tackles youth unemployment while meeting the needs of its business through its apprenticeship programme.

And Worcester security and compliance audit software firm, Titania, in St Mary's Street, is an enthusiastic supporter of apprenticeship programmes.

Ian Whiting, Titania CEO, said: “We had taken on an apprentice from TDM Wyre Academy previously who was extremely successful and were really looking forward to having another apprentice on-board. "We have found that although apprentices start out with very little experience, their enthusiasm and aptitude for learning is very high and often brings a fresh perspective to the team."

Gary Woodman, Executive Director of Worcestershire LEP, said: "We are very fortunate in Worcestershire that many of our businesses recognise the economic benefits that taking on an apprentice will eventually bring to them.

“We want to recognise the fantastic work that local employers are doing in offering apprenticeships to young people. Worcestershire punches above its weight in terms of the number and quality of schemes we have available."

Councillor Simon Geraghty, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy, Skills and Infrastructure, added: "During these hard economic times we cannot underestimate the importance of the role of apprenticeships in shaping the next generation of skilled workers, to ensure that business in Worcestershire keeps booming."

If you want to enter your business for the Apprentice Employer of the Year Award, visit The closing date for applications is August 8.