Kent’s National Apprenticeship Awards 2023: Winner Spotlight

The National Apprenticeship awards took place on Wednesday 8 February at the Darwin Conference Centre, University of Kent.

Here, to celebrate National Apprenticeship Awareness Week 2023 we caught up with some of the winners and runners up.

‘I am proud of our apprentices, they are helping the economy’

Joel Thomas of IBM (far left above) won Employer of the Year award.

He said: ‘I am an Early Professional Manager and work closely with the apprentices. Apprenticeships are the perfect combination of learning on the job while gaining professional experience. We take a range of levels at IBM from Level 3 to Degree Apprenticeships and they get to apply the theory they learn in real time and in professional circumstances.

Apprentices are doing real roles from day 1. They work directly with clients, influence critical business solutions and play an important role in digital transformation. Our apprentices are permanent members of staff at IBM from day 1 and they will progress through the business.

This helps us from an investment perspective, we are proud that they choose to stay on and progress their careers with us. The skills they use are highly relevant. Winning the award was fantastic, I am proud of our apprentices, that they are helping our economy and it is also great to have a good relationship with the University of Kent.’

‘Filming a TV ad for Olay – that was pretty cool!’

Joe Clines (far right above) won the Chartered Manager Apprentice of the Year Award.

He said: ”I was really interested in working and learning at the same time so an apprenticeship was for me.

I am 19 years old, a school leaver. I have a lot of friends doing traditional degrees and it’s hard to compare the two – I am just thinking of the employability skills I am getting alongside my University study!

When I go to uni on a Friday, I meet other students that work for other big companies and we put all of our working experience into our learnings.

The responsibility is real, I recently filmed a TV ad for Olay which was really cool, I am now working with an agency on the edits.

As long as I pass my degree, I get a job at the end and the great thing about Proctor and Gamble is you get to rotate around job roles in marketing, finance, sales. You will move into whatever area you were strongest in.

Marketing is my passion but lets see what happens. I am excited to see what the rest is all about!’

‘It was quite scary at first, working at such a high level’

Annabel Williamson is taking an Economics apprenticeship at Bank of England.

‘I always throw myself into things and I was really keen to get into the working world. I am really interested in finance and economics and I knew I wanted to get a degree to make sure doors weren’t closed for me. When I found degree apprenticeships, it seemed like a no brainer!

I found the apprenticeship at the Bank of England and it seemed perfect, when I applied everything just happened.

My job title is Climate Analyst which is looking at how climate affects financial issues, potentially. A typical day involves meeting with external researchers to create a research project, because the climate world is all very new and we meet with researchers to generate ideas and quantify risks.  It’s having the data and evidence to showcase the risk.

It was quite scary starting at such high levels. At first I was fully supported by staff members but I feel like I’ve really proved myself and they are really keen to let me run with the role. I am now in my second year, so I am being around it all the time and I have grown as a person.

I have my own blog to promote apprenticeships and what I am doing. I love to share to others so students know that there are lots of options out there after school to get on a career ladder.’

Other winners on the day included Darren Evans (pictured second left above) who took the Senior Leader MBA, Kezia Huttlestone (pictured above third from left) who studied Level 7 Operational Research Apprenticeship at the Ministry of Justice and Otenaike Olufunsho who is taking Level 7 Senior Leader MSc in Healthcare Management at NHS Maidstone and Tonbridge Wells Hospital Trust (second from right).

Interested in taking an apprenticeship at Kent Business School? Find our more here!

Apprenticeship Awards 2023 – Digital and Lifelong Learning – Apprenticeships (




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