08/08/2013 10:26 BST | Updated 08/10/2013 06:12 BST

Apprentice Challenge Showcases Talent All Year

While only one company can claim to have the official apprentice team of 2013, the benefits of the Brathay Apprentice Challenge go far beyond awarding a title.

This year over 90 businesses from across the country were given a chance to showcase their Apprenticeship programme, and bring benefits to local people through the community challenges they undertook. Teams also raised around £35,000 as part of the Challenge and are helping to recruit the future generation of apprentices.

As we approach A-Level and GCSE results time, our focus moves from the 2013 finals, won by Cumbrian manufacturing firm, Innovia Films, towards the impact the 2014 Brathay Apprentice Challenge will have.

Supported by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), the Challenge tests non-technical work skills and personal attributes of competing apprentices and in 2014 we will be looking for teams to go even further than those who entered the Challenge this year.

The 90 teams that entered back in January have made over 300 school visits. Some, such as Unilever, went into schools in South East England to encourage young people to consider Higher Apprenticeships instead of a university course.

Apprentices from East Midlands Housing Group delivered talks to teachers, parents and young people, and described to the judges how people were visibly converting to the idea of Apprenticeships as they spoke; something vitally important as a recent study found that 74% of parents lack understanding of Apprenticeships.

Plymouth Council, one of the eight finalists and winners of the 'awareness raising' aspect of the final, held jobs fairs, open days, business breakfasts and a vocational qualifications day for young people to spread the word about how Apprenticeships help you earn while you learn in a real job, gaining a real qualification and a real future.

The teams also generated hundreds of pieces of media coverage for Apprenticeships. Burnley Borough Council's team even persuaded journalist and commentator Alastair Campbell to turn his blog over to Apprenticeships, while eventual winners Innovia took over BBC Radio Cumbria for the day with one apprentice presenting its Breakfast Show.

Perhaps most importantly, the teams themselves build communication, teamwork, planning and logistical skills during the Challenge that will stay with them throughout their career.

While the Brathay Apprentice Challenge ultimately recognises one team, employers, communities and individuals all benefit. Overall, the Challenge helps develop enhanced team work, logistical, communications, motivational and planning skills among competing apprentices - the same skills that are valued by employers as the key to their success.

But don't just take my word for it - watch what it took Innovia to win in 2013, and get in touch if you would like to enter in 2014!



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