Berkeley unveils 2017 Apprentice Awards winners

Berkeley has called for a radical overhaul of the way colleges and employers work together as it announces the winners of the Berkeley Group Apprentice Awards.

Recent data shows that six months after completing a construction qualification, just 25% of trainees across England have a job in the sector (CITB, 2017). With 21,000 construction qualifications completed in London alone last year, this suggests fundamental flaws in the current system of further education, just as a skills crisis threatens to undermine housing supply.

Rob Perrins, Chief Executive of the Berkeley Group, said, “We need the right courses, in the right places, delivered by talented teachers given real support by employers who offer genuinely useful work experience. There is a huge amount of talent out there but the system isn’t working.”

Research from KPMG and the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry also suggests that around 400,000 people are set to retire from construction in the next 10 years. To combat this level of churn from both ends of the career ladder, the Berkeley Group is urging more collaboration between schools, colleges, training providers and the industry to design and deliver relevant qualifications that will sustain and grow the industry.

This call to action comes at a ceremony to mark the Berkeley Group Apprentice Awards, hosted at the historic Pennington Street warehouse in London Dock, Wapping. The awards recognise individuals and businesses who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to apprenticeships.

Presenting the top award to a young electrician, Joseph Valente, winner of BBC’s The Apprentice in 2015 and now Managing Director of ImpraGas, said, “My apprenticeship was the beginning of an exciting journey that contributed to success in life and business. It’s vital that we raise the profile of apprenticeships as a worthwhile and rewarding career choice for young people to consider seriously.”

The winners were chosen from 120 submissions for nine different awards by a panel of judges including Carol Lynch, CEO of the Construction Youth Trust, Cllr Carole Williams of Hackney Council, Cllr Sizwe James of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, and Michael Heanue of the Greater London Authority.

Aaron Brennan was named Best Electrical Apprentice and Best Overall Apprentice. After falling out of school and into the wrong crowd, Aaron decided to turn his life around and find a career.

He became an apprentice electrician working under the guidance and tutelage of Max Tullett at Brenbar Electrical. He is now based at Berkeley’s Royal Arsenal Riverside development in Woolwich and working towards a level 3 apprenticeship. The judges praised him as a humble candidate, who showed a desire to learn, help others in the community and become an example for those who have come through adversity to succeed.

The other winners were:

  • Best Plumber Apprentice – Johanna Dorey, Briggs and Forrester;
  • Best Support Services Apprentice – Lauren Lakeman, Feldhaus;
  • Best Interiors Apprentice – Alfie Boulden, Houston Cox;
  • Best Exteriors Apprentice – Jonathan Ajibade, Berkeley Homes (Central London);
  • Best Subcontractor working with the Berkeley Group – Lucas Group;
  • Best Operating Company within the Berkeley Group – Berkeley Homes (East Thames);
  • Best Apprentice Champion within the Berkeley Group – Irfan Ayub, Berkeley Homes (Capital);
  • Best Apprentice within the Berkeley Group – Huseyin Bozdogan, Berkeley Homes (Capital);
  • Best Electrical Apprentice (and Best Overall Winner) – Aaron Brennan, Brenbar Electrical.
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