Representatives from North West Wales's business community flocked to Bangor University's PJ Hall recently for Busnes@LlandrilloMenai's annual Apprenticeship Award Ceremony, which was sponsored by defence and aerospace company, Babcock International Group.

The Apprenticeship Award Ceremony celebrates the value apprentices bring to the economy and their individual contributions and achievements within the workplace or classroom setting and was attended by over 40 businesses and 30 apprentices and the tutors.

The big winner on the evening was plumber Tom Thomas who scooped the award for the 'Overall Apprentice of the Year 2020' for representing Grŵp Llandrillo Menai on a national, UK and World stage.

Tom competed at the WorldSkills event in Kazan Russia in 2019 and works for AER Cymru in Penrhyndeudraeth, he is now undertaking a level 3 apprenticeship.

Tom's employer Martin Roberts, AER Cymru commented:

Tom is a pleasure to work with. He's one of three apprentices that we employ. As a company apprenticeships are important for us, it's a way for us to invest for the future and create local jobs.

"We are very proud of Tom's achievements in the skills competitions and we've supported him throughout the selection process and training period - the competition is very demanding and we're proud to see how he has thrived under pressure."

11 awards were presented in total for amongst the winners were Hari Gethin - Traineeship, Lily Groom - Management Business Services and Retail, Sheridan Bailey - The Waterloo Hotel and Lodge, Sian Williams - Accountancy, Non Khan - Hospitality, Llinos Haf Jones - The Hair House, Laurent Marshall, Caretech, Ian Hedges - Childcare, Cameron Sorrel Barry, Engineering , Thomas Thomas for Construction and Erin Fychan Roberts for Colegau Cymraeg Cenedlaethol Award.

Maria McLean from Dylan's Restaurant Ltd, attended the event with Non Khan winner of the Hospitality Award. She commented:

"Non has been a part of the team at Dylan's Llandudno since the restaurant opened, she's a valued member of the kitchen team. She is dedicated, experienced and creative and shows great flair in the kitchen.

The benefits [of apprenticeships] are huge. Recruitment in our sector can be challenging so apprenticeships are incredibly important to Dylan's in providing a recruitment tool that allows us to bring new people into the business, train and develop them. We currently employ five apprentices across the Dylan's group.

The event which has become a fixture of the business calendar was this year sponsored by Babcock International Group. The defence and aerospace company have established a highly regarded apprenticeship scheme to source, train and retain aeronautical engineers to service the T2 Hawk Jets at RAF Valley.

Geoff Adams from Babcock International Group commented:

"We are delighted to have sponsored Busnes@LlandrilloMenai's annual Apprenticeship Award Ceremony. It was an inspiring event which made everyone present appreciate the huge contribution that apprentices make to the economy across all sectors.

At Babcock, we are committed to addressing the national shortage of aeronautical engineers, and as part of this commitment, we continue to invest in the development of a highly skilled local workforce to service the Hawk aircraftat RAF Valley. Working closely with Grŵp Llandrillo Menai we have developed an Aeronautical Apprenticeship scheme to be proud of.

"Since 2016, 22 apprentices have gone through the training at RAF Valley and are now in full-time employment with Babcock, while another 22 are currently completing their apprenticeship training. Throughout 2020 we will select up to a further 12 apprentices to join our Aeronautical Apprenticeship Scheme."

Rhianwen Edwards, Director of Commercial and Work Based Learning commented:

We're delighted to have hosted so many businesses, colleagues and apprentices this evening. The number of delegates attending is testament to the importance of apprenticeship to the economy in North West Wales. It's encouraging to see so many different industries, types and sizes of company represented here this evening.

"Busnes@LlandrilloMenai supported approximately 900 apprenticeships in the last academic year in subjects that range from Engineering to Information Technology. I would encourage businesses to consider whether taking on an apprentice would benefit their company."