Inspiring apprentice honoured at awards

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An inspirational apprentice from Heanor who opened doors for hundreds of hearing impaired people has scooped a top award.

Max Buxton, from Bowers Electrical in Heanor, won the Dedication to Apprenticeship Award at Learning Unlimited’s Apprenticeship Awards in Derby after successfully campaigning, with his parents and employer, to ensure British Sign Language (BSL) was recognised as part of apprenticeship standards.

Max has a hearing impairment and English isn’t his first language so it had been a challenge to complete the functional skills part of his apprenticeship.

This was preventing him from completing the qualification even though his technical skills were excellent. The change not only allows Max to complete his qualification, it opens doors for hundreds of other hearing impaired students and apprentices.

Max said: “Now British Sign Language is recognised as part of apprenticeships, it means there are no limits for me and other deaf people. It is difficult to get on courses and apply for jobs in companies if you don’t have an English qualification so now BSL is recognised it makes it easier for other skills to be taken into account.”

Heanor-based RPC BPI Recycled Products won the Investment in 
Apprentices award after being nominated by their apprentices for the time, money and commitment they put in to developing young people working in different roles.

Anne Dyer, service development manager from the company, said: “Apprentices are valued members of the team and we couldn’t be without them. We are passionate about developing young people. It is really rewarding to see them grow with us because of the opportunities we give them.

“It isn’t just about teaching them how to do the job, we give them skills to make sure they are ready for working life and give them the opportunity to learn about different areas of the business. We have had seven apprentices over the last four years and those who have finished their qualifications have stayed with the company and are now supervising others.”

There were 30 shortlisted apprentices and employers across the 11 categories of awards. The award categories were designed to celebrate the dedication and drive of apprentices at all levels of study, including those working towards university level qualifications.

They also recognised large and small companies who had shown a huge commitment to developing their workforce through apprenticeships.

Julie Richards, principal of the Chesterfield College Group, which Learning Unlimited is part of, said: “I want to congratulate everyone who was nominated as well as the winners. We have heard so many fantastic examples of the benefits apprenticeships are providing for local employers and learners tonight and I hope they help to inspire others to see where apprenticeships can take them.”