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The UK’s top employers for school leavers were revealed last week, when the results of a nationwide survey were announced at an awards ceremony in London’s City Hall – and gained words of support from London’s new mayor, Sadiq Khan.

The AllAboutSchoolLeavers.co.uk’s Top 100 Employers for School & College Leavers 2016 included 17 Awards in 19 categories, including skills development, career progression, training and company culture – as decided by surveys completed by apprentices and school leaver trainees from 100 UK organisations. 

In the fourth annual ceremony, Mercedes-Benz was named Top Employer for School & College Leavers, and Amber Westmoreland of EY won the School or College Leaver of the Year award.

It’s really exciting to win an award – I definitely made the right career choice. I chose the school leaver route because I didn’t want to go to university when I left college,” said Amber. “When I found out there was a route to get a professional job – one that I would have thought you’d need a degree for – without having to go to university, I jumped at it.

“It’s quite hard work to juggle your professional qualification exams alongside working but I have loved my first two years at EY and am excited to keep learning and stretching myself!”

The School or College Leaver of the Year award was one of four awards judged by a panel of industry experts, who described Amber as stepping “outside of her remit”, demonstrating “qualities of leadership” and “incredible initiative”. They said she was proof that it is possible to succeed and excel without going to university.

The industry panel included senior figures from the Association of Graduate Recruiters, the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), Skills for Health and Justice, the National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural Skills and the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI).

This year AllAboutSchoolLeavers.co.uk added a new Degree Apprenticeships category – the programmes were launched nationally in 2015 – as well as new industry-specific categories acknowledging the top employers in their particular fields.

New Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, offered his support to the event, saying how important skills training is for school leavers:

“I will be a Mayor who leads a new agenda for London, making sure young people and businesses get the skills they need to succeed.

“To achieve that, I am looking forward to working with the employers celebrated tonight to bring as many young people as possible into the London workforce, so our great city can continue to grow.”

Jack Denton, director and co-founder of AllAboutSchoolLeavers.co.uk, said: “Our awards, solely based on the opinions of the people currently participating in these training programmes, help other young people see which areas employers are excelling in, and who offers them the best opportunities.

“By adding new industry specific categories we’re helping young people identify the best employers in the sectors they are most interested in.”