At the top of the tree

Back row: Northumberland College Principal Stuart Cutforth; Stephen Eltringham, Bernicia; Dave Futers, Bernicia; Bob McGregor, Bernicia; Debra Beattie, Bernicia; Apprentice Liam Traba, Bernicia Front Row: Northumberland College Chair of Governors Jacqui Henderson; Liz McMillan, Northumberland College Employer Engagement Responsive Manager; Andrea Malcolm Bernicia; Lisa Mood, Northumberland College Employability and Business Development Manager
Back row: Northumberland College Principal Stuart Cutforth; Stephen Eltringham, Bernicia; Dave Futers, Bernicia; Bob McGregor, Bernicia; Debra Beattie, Bernicia; Apprentice Liam Traba, Bernicia Front Row: Northumberland College Chair of Governors Jacqui Henderson; Liz McMillan, Northumberland College Employer Engagement Responsive Manager; Andrea Malcolm Bernicia; Lisa Mood, Northumberland College Employability and Business Development Manager

A NORTH East social housing provider has been honoured for its support of Northumberland apprentices.

Bernicia, which has 8,000 homes throughout the region and 6,000 in south east Northumberland, has been crowned Apprentice Employer of the Year by Northumberland College.

The award was given at a special event at Kirkley Hall, near Ponteland, which was attended by dozens of employers to celebrate the value of work learning programmes.

Bernicia joinery apprentice Liam Traba and Northumberland College customer services apprentice Leanne Colquhoun spoke about the benefits of receiving hands-on training alongside a qualification to give them a better standing for their future careers.

And guest speaker Stephen Eltringham, who is Director of Property and Services at Bernicia, spoke about how he started his career as an apprentice and it turned out to be the most valuable experience of his life.

He said: “Apprenticeships are a great way to learn about life and apply what you learn as you go along. My apprenticeship gave me the foundation of knowledge, skills and confidence at an early age, which my career has been built upon and made me the person I am today.

“If I had the choice to do it again, I would do it without a shadow of doubt.”

Bernicia has a range of apprenticeships with Northumberland College, including joinery, bricklaying, plumbing, electrical engineering, business administration and customer service.

The award was presented by Northumberland College Chairman of Governors Jacqui Henderson.

“Bernicia is an exemplar employer that is very supportive of training, viewing staff development as highly valuable to its organisation and it has a solid induction programme for its apprentices,” she said.

Accepting the award, Bernicia Operations Director, Care and Support Andrea Malcolm said: “We were delighted to win this award in recognition of our dedication and support of the apprenticeship programme.

“Working in partnership with Northumberland College ensures that our apprentices receive structured, up-to-date training and mentoring that meets not only the needs of the apprentice, but those of our organisation and prepared them for the real world of work.

“We have a long-standing commitment to apprenticeships, employing 19 apprentices in recent years with 10 going on to gain permanent positions and eight still completing their apprenticeship.

“I would advise local employers to consider how an apprentice could benefit their business in the future.”

Other nominations for the Apprenticeship Employer of the Year award were Oliver’s Tree Services, Northumberland County Council, Aftershock, Banks Mining, Newcastle City Council, UK Coal and Robert McKenzie Painting and Decorating.

For further information about apprenticeships offered through Northumberland College call 01670 841268 or log onto the website at www.northumberland.ac.uk