Apprentice Jude Kirkwood-Thompson has been named “Apprentice of the Year”, with her employer, property services company Ian Williams, also receiving an award for its training academy at this year’s National Housing Maintenance Forum (NHMF) Awards.
The NHMF is a leading source of best practice for the social housing sector, with a focus on building maintenance and asset management. It was formed in 1994.
Sian Pearce, Training and Development Manager for the Ian Williams Academy, comments: “We are absolutely delighted with these results. As a business, apprentices are at the heart of what we do and attracting and developing the best talent and being an employer of choice is part of our core business strategy. We are committed to direct delivery of our services and as such have a commitment to 10% of our workforce being apprentices.
“A massive well done to Jude Kirkwood-Thompson for being named Apprentice of the Year. Jude mainly works on our Accent Housing contract as an apprentice carpenter and was nominated because from day one, his natural enthusiasm and aptitude has shone through. Through his ‘have a go’ attitude, Jude has developed his trade skills quickly and can do most tasks with little supervision. Jude is ambitious and aspires to become a foreperson and beyond with Ian Williams. I look forward to following his career with us in the years to come.
“To win the Best Apprentice Scheme is particularly important as it recognises The Academy team’s efforts in what has been a very challenging year. The impact of COVID has meant significant changes for the recruitment process. Rather than touring schools and colleges talking to young people about the opportunities an apprenticeship with Ian Williams can offer, we’ve taken everything online. Part of this shift saw us collaborate with the CITB to pilot an online careers day with great success: this year we have recruited 20 apprentices, including Rhiannon Valleley, who was a second-year apprentice that had been made redundant, and the full intake started ready for college in September.
“Any business is only as good as its people and we continually strive to look at ways to improve the training experience we offer. We have already piloted the new apprenticeship standards update course run by the CITB and our feedback helped shape the final course. We continue to work closely with our teams, particularly our apprentice mentors and site coaches, to ensure each of our apprentices get the support they need to be successful and go on to have long and happy careers in the Construction Industry. “I am truly delighted that the excellent work we do in training and developing apprentices has been recognised by the NHMF.”