A RISE in the number of people taking up apprenticeships resulted in Wiltshire College and University moving to a bigger venue to mark the annual awards.

Since the annual event celebrating apprentices was introduced a decade ago, it has always been held at the Arc Theatre in Trowbridge or one of the College’s campuses.

This year it was held at Trowbridge Civic Centre where awards were presented by Chippenham MP Michelle Donelan, the MP for Chippenham.

Miss Donelan said: “We need events like this to spread the word across Wiltshire that these opportunities are out there and available for everyone regardless of background.

“I have been pushing hard for even more emphasis to be placed on apprenticeships as I feel they are a powerful tool when levelling up opportunities across the country, especially for people in rural communities like ours.”

Tony Basham, executive director for business and partnerships, said: “The Apprenticeship Awards is one of the highlights in the College’s event calendar and every year we enjoy celebrating the achievements of our apprentices.“Over the past three years, the college has seen its apprenticeship starts double and so we were delighted to hold this year’s ceremony at the Civic Centre, to be able to accommodate our growing number of apprentice winners and their guests.It was a fantastic evening.”

More than 20 individual apprentice of the year awards were presented in trades like business administration, hairdressing, architectural joinery, engineering, horticulture and social media and digital marketing.

This year’s winners also included mature apprentices who have chosen to change career or learn new skills in areas such as human resources, team leading and accountancy.

A total of 170 guests were there, including the winners, their family and friends, college staff, employers and VIPs.

The college welcomed Kathy Collis, head of learning and organisational development, from Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Service, who talked about apprenticeships within the brigade and her own progression.

Three employer awards were presented to organisations that have supported apprentices and been advocates for the scheme.

The Smaller Apprentice Employer of the Year Awards was won by A J Reynolds Truck and Van Services of Frome.

Mander Duffill won the Medium Apprentices Employer Award and Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust was awarded Large Apprenticeship Employer of the Year.

Principal Amanda Burnside presented one surprise final award for the Outstanding Apprentice of the Year to Nicole Fever, who completed a Level 4 Engineering apprenticeship with Steve Vick International.

Nicole, 26, of Bradford on Avon, said: “I was amazed to win the engineering award, so to also win the Outstanding Apprentice award was fantastic. To say I was surprised would be an understatement!”