SME Apprenticeships Scheme Wins Top Award

Rachel Goldsack of Contemporary Flowers (Micro Employer of the Year Winner) with David Croisdale-ApplebyA Canterbury-based florist received a top accolade for its Apprenticeship scheme at last week’s Apprenticeship Awards, organised by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS).  The award recognises the firm’s success in using apprentices to grow its business, providing a shining example of how SMEs can benefit from Apprenticeship programmes.

The company, which employs two apprentices, believes Apprenticeships are the best way of recruiting high-quality employees and credits its own Apprenticeship programme with the significant growth it continues to enjoy. The passion of the apprentices Contemporary Flowers works with is one of the main reasons the business has been able to move from tiny, ‘shed-like’ premises to a full-size shop. A sister outlet in the area is now in the offing and additional training facilities have been opened away from the shop floor.

The apprentices are credited with bringing the shop success at the internationally-renowned Chelsea Flower Show for two years in a row. As a result of their efforts in horticultural competitions, both apprentices are helping put Contemporary Flowers on the map as an award-winning florist – something which has raised the profile of the business significantly, as well as broadening its customer base.

Contemporary Flowers, named Micro Employer of the Year, was amongst eight winners at the awards ceremony, which took place in Westminster.  Other successful candidates include Rosy Apple Childcare, a nursery school in Preston who won in the Medium Employer of the Year category, and The RAF Museum in Cosford who won the Small Employer of the Year award. 

Rachel Goldsack, owner of Contemporary Flowers, said:

“Our apprentices have brought enormous business benefits. Their enthusiasm and achievements have not only boosted the morale of our whole team, they have also brought in new customers and have greatly impacted on the productivity of the business. In the past, we’ve struggled to recruit people with the right skills, which is one of the reasons apprentices are perfect for a small but growing business like ours: we can nurture their talents to our own high standards. It’s the best business decision I ever made and has led to a 30% increase in profits, lots of publicity and the opportunity to branch out and open a second store.”

John Hayes, Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, added:

“Apprenticeships play a huge role in providing the skills we need to build an advanced economy. They help get young people into work and boost productivity and improve competitiveness.

“I am just about to take on an apprentice myself, so I know the benefits they can bring to the workplace. The Apprenticeship Awards recognise and celebrate these benefits as well as the hard work of individuals and the commitment of employers to invest in their workforce.”

“For this Government, skills are a priority and apprenticeships are at the heart of our determination to produce a new generation of craftsmen capable of building a highly skilled, competitive economy.”

Simon Waugh, Chief Executive of NAS, said:

“Apprenticeships make a positive contribution to businesses of all sizes and from all sectors and it’s been great to celebrate this through the awards.  I hope the success stories highlighted by the awards encourage many more organisations and individuals to find out more about Apprenticeships.”

Chris Jones, Director General and CEO, City & Guilds finished:

“The Apprenticeship Awards celebrate the best of the nation’s students and employers from across the country, showing the breadth and quality of Apprenticeship programmes available.”

“It is humbling to hear our winners’ inspirational stories, some of whom have achieved extraordinary results against all odds.  At a time when the country is preparing for an upturn, it is talented and motivated people like them who will contribute to future economic growth and prosperity.”

Other award sponsors include: Unilever UK, sponsor of Young Apprentice of the Year; EDI, sponsor of Apprentice of the Year; EAL (EMTA Awards Ltd), sponsor of Advanced Apprentice of the Year; Skills for Care, sponsor of Micro Employer of the Year; BT, sponsor of Small Employer of the Year; NDA/Sellafield, sponsor of Medium Employer of the Year; and BAE Systems, sponsor of Large Employer of the Year; Cable & Wireless, sponsor of Macro Employer of the Year; Southampton Solent University, VIP reception sponsor; BPP, Finalist Awards Films sponsor. 

The award winners enjoyed a reception and ceremony at the Park Plaza Hotel, Westminster.  All of these winners have previously triumphed in regional heats.

More about the Apprenticeship Awards and the benefits of Apprenticeships can be found by visiting

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