Wakefield College’s Apprenticeships offer has been recognised at a glittering awards ceremony. The College scooped the Excellence in Apprenticeships award at the Educate North Awards 2022. The event, which took place in Manchester last week, celebrates outstanding work in the education sector across the North of England.

Wakefield College, which recently merged with Selby College to form the Heart of Yorkshire Education Group, was praised for the work the Apprenticeships Team carried out during the COVID-19 Pandemic in helping businesses navigate some of the toughest economic times in living memory.

Judges praised the effective relationships the College has built with employers and the innovative approach to learning that has been adopted during the national lockdowns to meet industry demands.

Apprenticeship providers have been particularly affected by the pandemic, with restrictions resulting in delays to assessment or breaks in learning, withdrawals, and reduced starts. In some areas, apprentices struggled with balancing home, work and their apprenticeship whilst working from home and having to home school. However, with great effort to continue to engage both learners and apprentices during this difficult period, Wakefield College managed to effectively minimise the impact.

Practical assessment and professional discussions were completed online via Teams/phone calls and were recorded as evidence. All learners were also supported with IT.

Witness testimonies were used in place of observations, where applicable and permitted in line with special dispensation. Assessors were flexible and supportive. Additional modules were provided to support mental health and wellbeing. Many of the positive lessons and practices developed during the pandemic will continue.

Principal and chief executive of the group, Sam Wright said: “This is a proud moment for the Heart of Yorkshire Education Group and a huge seal of approval for the work we do with employers. Apprenticeships are at core of our employer engagement strategy and it’s wonderful to see our work recognised.”

The College boasts an impressive list of employers they work with including SMEs and national organisations such as Local Authorities, Unilever, Coca Cola, Haribo, ENGIE, Burberry; Warburtons, Emergency Services, Bosch, Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation, Mars and NHS Trusts.