The search is on to find the country’s top apprentices and apprenticeship employers.

The 2015 National Apprenticeship Awards, run by the National Apprenticeship Service, are now open for entries and will close on 22 May 2015. The awards challenge top apprenticeship employers and apprentices across England to show how apprenticeships have made a real difference to their organisation and careers.

Candidates will compete to be named ‘the best of the best’ on both a regional and national level. The awards which are now in their 12th year, recognise businesses that grow their own talent with apprenticeships and apprentices who have made a significant contribution to their workplaces.

Last year’s winners included Hayley James from IBM, she was crowned the Unilever Higher Apprentice of the Year 2014 after impressing a panel of judges from the employment and skills arena.

Hayley James, who is from Midhurst in West Sussex, said:

“I chose to do an apprenticeship because I truly believe that there is no better way for me to achieve the career I want. Within three years I have already accomplished so much more than I could have possibly imagined. I hope to use this award to show people who may have misconceptions about apprenticeships that there is no difference between me and a graduate and raise the profile of apprenticeships.”

PWC won the Rolls Royce Newcomer Larger Employer of the Year 2014 category. Sara Caplan, partner at the firm says:

“Our apprentices start a career with real responsibility, supporting high-profile client work and developing the skills to succeed in business through a two year development programme, with the opportunity to progress to the very top of our organisation. We now hope to encourage more employers in our sector to recognise the benefits of employing apprentices through our role in the Accountancy and Management Consultancy Trailblazer projects.”

This year’s categories for the Apprentice of the Year are:

  • Intermediate Apprentice of the Year
  • Advanced Apprentice of the Year
  • Higher Apprentice of the Year
  • Apprenticeship Champion of the Year

The Employer of the Year categories are open to all employers and include:

  • Small Employer of the Year
  • Medium Employer of the Year
  • Large Employer of the Year
  • Macro Employer of the Year

For the fifth consecutive year the very best employer category entries will have the opportunity of featuring in the annual Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers list. The 2015 list will be announced at the National Apprenticeship Awards ceremony in January 2016.

This year the national ceremony will also celebrate traineeship employers and the support they provide young people to help them skills and experience that will enable them to successfully apply for an apprenticeship or job.