Pictured at the 2023 Workplace Champions awards 2023 is overall winner, Brendan Kearns (Designer Group Dublin' and NAO Director, Dr Mary Liz Trant.

Could you be an apprentice champion?

The National Apprenticeship Office has announced its call for nominations across the Munster region for the Generation Apprenticeship ‘Workplace Champions 2024’ awards with nominations for the 2024 awards closing on September 11.

The 2024 Workplace Champions awards happening in December will showcase and celebrate apprenticeship champions in Cork, Kerry, Clare Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford and from workplaces right across Ireland, passionate about the development and success of apprentices and the apprenticeship mode of learning.

Last year’s overall national ‘Workplace Champion’ award winner was Brendan Kearns, of Designer Group (Designer Electric Limited) Dublin. He won the overall award out of a total of 87 individual and team entries. This year, the National Apprenticeship Office is hoping to receive over 100 nominations from Munster and across Ireland to honour those people in the workplace who support, mentor and help apprentices access and unlock their potential with Generation Apprenticeship.

Commenting on his award win and the importance of driving gender parity with apprenticeship, Brendan said: “I’m delighted to have won this award - it’s nice to be recognised as a Generation Apprenticeship ‘Workplace Champion’ We are looking at working with young, disadvantaged people, and trying to get the gender balance right in the company. We have young female electricians here, and we’re really encouraging then to come with us to the schools, to spread the word about apprenticeships and the opportunities they bring.”

In the last decade, thousands of apprentices have graduated through the full range of national apprenticeships, now comprising 75 programmes spanning diverse industries that include Construction, Engineering, Biopharma, ICT, Farming, Sales, Social Work and much more. And behind each smiling apprentice graduate there is a team of dedicated and committed individuals in the workplace who led this success, driving opportunity with apprenticeship for women and girls, students and career seekers of all ages who want to build career success with Apprenticeship.

Dr Mary Liz Trant, Director of the National Apprenticeship Office said: “We are delighted to announce that the Workplace Champions award nominations are open. This is an excellent opportunity for employers and industry peers across Cork, Kerry, Clare Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford and all counties to celebrate and showcase the incredible effort and dedication shown by apprenticeship advocates in workplaces right across Ireland - all helping to support and drive career success for apprentices across a multitude of 21st century industries. Our national apprenticeship system simply could not function without the support of employers, and the steadfast dedication from the thousands of people in industry. This year we would love to see Workplace Champion nominations from every county and industry sector in Munster, getting rightful recognition for their great work to drive diversity and inclusion or act as supporters, advocates and enablers of apprentices, and build on the success of last year's Munster-Leinster award win success for H.A O'Neill (Jones Engineering). We hope to see employers put in their nominations to highlight the exceptional work happening with Apprenticeship across Munster!

The Workplace Champions 2024 award categories are:

Mentor/Assessor: awarding individuals that work day-in day-out with apprentices, helping to ensure that they get quality training, giving of their expertise to support the next generation of talent.

Enabler/Supporter: honouring enthusiastic individuals who go the extra mile to support apprentices, such as helping those that need extra assistance in navigating the workplace

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion awarding those who act as an advocate for inclusion, celebrating and driving diversity within the workplace, promoting well-being in the workplace.

Team award: awarding a team within a company who strive to ensure the progress of apprentices, supporting, enabling and improving the quality of apprentices on-the-job. This team is for those in leadership or supporting roles, and could comprise of assessors, mentors, team leaders, shift supervisors or anyone involved in the day-to-day training of an apprentice.

The 2024 awards will celebrate those individuals who bring apprenticeship training alive in the workplace through their mentoring skills, technical skills, listening skills, and through their support and encouragement, helping to ensure that apprentices have excellent on-the-job learning and development experiences, and embark successfully on their careers. The awards event has a strong industry presence along with current and graduate apprentices, members of the National Apprenticeship Alliance, CIF, Ibec, social partners including ICTU, SIPTU and Connect, and education and training providers.

Nominations for the 2024 awards are free, and employers can submitted a nomination via the ‘Workplace Champions’ nomination form at www.apprenticeship.ie by Wednesday, September 11