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At a prestigious awards ceremony in the House of Commons on Monday, Microsoft announced QA Apprentice Alex Small, employed at Penman IT, as Microsoft’s Apprentice of the Year 2014

Alex was given praise for going above and beyond his job role, being top of his training group, and even developing his own products completely by himself.

Microsoft’s Apprentice of the Year Award is one of the most sought-after accolades within the IT training industry, and celebrates the growing importance of apprenticeships in closing the skills gap in the IT sector.

Each year Microsoft partners nominate who they think is worthy of the title and this year’s awards saw a record number of entrants.

The ceremony saw Microsoft’s UK Managing Director Michel Van der Bel and local MPs hosting the event. Of eight awards presented overall, six were won by employers and apprentices in partnership with Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ IT apprenticeships business QA Apprenticeships.

Another of the coveted awards at the ceremony was Microsoft Employer of the Year, which was also won by a QA partner – Cloudamour. They were commended for their long-term development plans and excellent training programme. They were also commended for having 20% of their workforce as apprentices.

QA’s winners for Microsoft Apprentice of the Year:

  • Overall Winner: Alex Small – Penman IT
  • Small Business Award: Alex Small – Penman IT
  • Large Business Award: Thomas Herring – KCOM

QA’s winners for Microsoft Employer of the Year:

  • Small Business Award: Cloudamour
  • Large Business Award: Cisco

Alex Small, Microsoft Apprentice of the Year, commented: “I have been on the phone to all of my friends and family all morning, it’s been more than amazing! I would never in a million years have imagined that I would have been nominated for such an award and also been given the chance to collect it at the Houses of Parliament. My next career step will be focused on helping young adults and apprentices gain the same invaluable experience as I did.”

Hugh Milward, Director of Corporate Affairs, Microsoft said: ‘‘Microsoft is delighted to celebrate the achievements of all our winners and finalists. There is a huge wealth of talent in the UK and it’s important to acknowledge the tremendous commitment of employers and their apprentices, who have developed their skills during tough economic times.

“The great news is that these young people are now firmly on the career ladder; 93% of Microsoft apprentices stay with our partner businesses and move into a fully qualified role. These awards recognise their hard work, determination and achievements, which will stand them in good stead for a successful career in IT and will help maintain the talent pipeline in the UK.’’

Ben Pike, Director of QA Apprenticeships, commented: “We are extremely pleased that Microsoft has recognised Alex for the hard work and ambition he’s shown throughout his IT Apprenticeship with QA.”

“For QA Apprenticeships as a training provider to have 75% of the awards won by our partners on the day demonstrates the positive impact that our employer-led, Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ technical training is having for a wide variety of businesses and young people starting their careers.”