A North East business cost management specialist has been named as a finalist in the National Apprenticeship Awards, where the best apprenticeship schemes in the country will be announced in January 2017.

Seaham-based Great Annual Savings Group (GAS) was previously named winner of the ‘Best Newcomer SME’ category for the North East and Humberside on Thursday 6 October, which resulted in consideration for the national judging stage.

The central panel of judges has now deemed GAS’ scheme worthy of a place in the final. Representatives of the Group have been invited to Grosvenor House, London, on Friday 20 January 2017, where the national winners will be confirmed.

The National Apprenticeship Awards celebrate the best apprentices and schemes in the UK. GAS was advised to enter by scheme delivery partner Talent Training UK LLP after a successful first 12 months and a second intake of young Apprentices in October 2016. And it seems the NAA judges have agreed with that assessment, naming GAS alongside companies such as Lloyds Bank and Mercedes Benz as a finalist.

The other two ‘Best Newcomer SME’ finalists are Mansfield charity ‘A Place To Call Our Own’ and fuel distributor ‘Craggs Energy’.

GAS now employs 12 Apprentices – a significant proportion of its work force. Judith Bennison, Group HR Director, has signalled the pride GAS staff have in the scheme.

She said: “We’re extremely excited and proud to be recognised as one of the finest apprenticeship schemes in the country by the National Apprenticeship Awards, especially in an area we feel so passionately about at Great Annual Savings Group.

“To win the regional award for our achievements in our first year was a great result. Then, being confirmed as a national finalist has rubber stamped our confidence in the scheme we have set up, which we believe to be a first-class opportunity for young people to develop a career.

“Our commitment to generating apprenticeships and jobs in the North East will continue and we’re proud to be representing the region in the national finals of the awards in 2017.”
David Harper, Chairman of Talent Training UK LLP, said: “It has been a pleasure and an honour to be asked to get behind Great Annual Savings’ prestige Apprenticeship Scheme. They are an employer that delivers world class training and invests significantly in their talented workforce; making them the employer of choice for hundreds of ambitious people.

“They deserve this award for the career defining opportunities they are creating and we look forward to continuing to support them in the delivery of their exciting people strategy for a long time to come.”

Sue Husband, Director of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: “We should congratulate everyone who has reached this stage and been recognised as a finalist at a national level. Whatever happens on the night, each apprentice and employer deserves recognition for committing to and delivering on apprenticeships and for these individuals and employers, the level of success and impact brought by apprenticeships is huge.”

The GAS Apprenticeship Scheme is now into its second year and welcomed the latest cohort of Apprentices in October, who are training in various fields, including Customer Experience, Marketing and eCommerce and Energy Management.

For more information on the award-winning Apprenticeship Scheme, visit the Great Annual Savings website