Business Support Apprentice Lauren Preece congratulated by College Principal and CEO Andrew Cropley.

Venture House Business Support Apprentice is Apprentice of the Year

Venture House, which is owned and managed by Stratford-upon-Avon District Council, was created to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs and offer support to existing small enterprises. Business Support Apprentice Lauren Preece, whose apprenticeship training is delivered by Stratford-upon-Avon College, won the award at the College’s own Student Awards Ceremony on Thursday 4 May 2017.

The event recognised students of all abilities for their achievements throughout the academic year. The District Council was in attendance and was pleased to sponsor the ‘Rising Star’ Award category.

Lauren, 21 from Bidford-upon-Avon, is thrilled with her win. “Winning the Apprentice of the Year award was a massive shock! To be nominated was amazing, but to actually have that achievement under my belt is brilliant. Having this award will hopefully show any future employer my willingness not only to learn and progress, but also how important it is to me to do well in my career.

“Throughout my apprenticeship I have received wonderful support from the College Apprenticeship Team, and know that, should I struggle with any aspect of my apprenticeship, they are only an email or phone call away!I feel without the help and support of the College team, as well as the team at Venture House, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and so early on in my career.

“It has been a real privilege to be a student at Stratford-upon-Avon College, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me!”

Nancy Singleton, Business Enterprise & Tourism Manager, Stratford District Council said: “We are delighted that Lauren has been recognised for her achievement at such an early stage in her apprenticeship. This is testimony to the enthusiasm, approach and commitment she demonstrates in all aspects of her work at Venture House and the success of the centre.  We look forward to helping her to develop further into her role. She is a great ambassador for apprenticeships and, through her first-hand experience, she is able to encourage others to consider embarking on a similar route.”

Miv Wright, Business Development Manager at Stratford-upon-Avon College, presented Lauren with her award.“Lauren is a committed, enthusiastic individual who, since day one of her Apprenticeship, has demonstrated a mature and outstanding work ethic. Her willingness and ability to support others and complete tasks to a high standard has meant she is a great asset to her manager Nancy and the team at Venture House Business Centre.”

Jonathan Browning, Chairman of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) said, “Not only is this a great accolade for Lauren, it demonstrates the Council’s commitment to supporting the apprenticeship and skills agenda, and its desire to help inspire a new generation of talent, not only for its staff but for the clients who frequent the great business facility that Venture House provides.”

Business Support Apprentice Lauren Preece congratulated by College Principal and CEO Andrew Cropley.

Apprentice of the Year 2016/2017

Congratulations to Level 2 Business Administration Apprentice Lauren Preece – 2016/2017’s Apprentice of the Year.

Lauren’s manager at Venture House (Stratford-upon-Avon), Nancy Singleton, commented:

We are delighted that Lauren has been recognised for her achievement at such an early stage in her apprenticeship. This is testimony to the enthusiasm, approach and commitment she demonstrates in all aspects of her work at Venture House and the success of the centre. We look forward to helping her to develop further into her role.  She is a great ambassador for apprenticeships and through her first-hand experience, she is able to encourage others to consider embarking on a similar route.

Stratford-upon-Avon College Business Development Manager Miv Wright commented:

Lauren is a committed, enthusiastic individual who since day one of her business administration apprenticeship has demonstrated a mature and outstanding work ethic. Her willingness and ability to support others and complete tasks to a high standard has meant she is a great asset to her manager Nancy and the team at Venture House Business Centre.

Lauren is an excellent student, excelling in all aspects of her apprenticeship and has continuously supported the College during events. She has also encouraged others to consider the apprenticeship route and contributed greatly to the Work Based Learning team.

Are you aged 16+? Do you wish to combine working and earning while learning a professional skill? Would you like to gain nationally recognised qualifications?

Level 2 Professional Catering Apprentice Charlotte Bailey

Apprentice of the Month – April 2017

Congratulations to Level 2 Professional Catering apprentice Charlotte Bailey — April 2017’s Apprentice of the Month.

Charlotte’s manager at the White Hart Inn (Ufton, Leamington Spa), Carly Boskett, commented:

Charlotte is an absolute credit to our team, her positive can-do attitude and willingness to learn new skills is very refreshing. Her attitude has made a positive impact on my business and we would be lost without her.

Stratford-upon-Avon College Work Based Learning Team Leader Bryan Anderson commented:

Impact and success at work and through her technical certificate results. Outstanding scores on first attempt each time.

Are you aged 16+? Do you wish to combine working and earning while learning a professional skill? Would you like to gain nationally recognised qualifications?

Level 2 Engineering Apprentices Sam Cox-Brann, Oliver Stratford and Oliver Parry

Apprentice of the Month – March 2017

Congratulations to Level 2 Engineering apprentices Sam Cox-Brann, Oliver Stratford and Oliver Parry — March 2017’s Apprentices of the Month.

The apprentice’s manager at Freeman & Pardoe, Les Haywood, commented:

Excellent progress made within their qualifications both at College and in the workplace. They have been trained up on a new laser machine that the rest of the staff have not so this shows how much faith the company is putting in them. They have also recommended work improvements and presented it to the management and it was accepted and implemented improving output by 50%.

Are you aged 16+? Do you wish to combine working and earning while learning a professional skill? Would you like to gain nationally recognised qualifications?

Professional Cookery Apprentice Ellena Maher at the Rose & Crown restaurant

Cooking Up My Future at The Rose & Crown

By Ellena Maher, Professional Cookery Apprentice

For someone who’s as passionate about cooking as me, there is really only one choice of career, isn’t there? So, as a first step towards my goal, I was thrilled to get a Professional Cookery Apprenticeship at The Rose & Crown restaurant in Warwick.

Once a month, my tutor from Stratford-upon-Avon College, Jim, visits the restaurant to see me cook and prepare dishes.

I remember I was so nervous the first couple of times Jim came to visit me, as I felt I was being assessed and might be criticised. I shouldn’t have worried though. He instantly put me at ease and made it clear he is there to help and support my development. We discuss the month before which meals I will be preparing next, to give me time for practice and preparation.

I had already completed a full-time Catering course at Stratford-upon-Avon College, but my apprenticeship has driven me even further towards my goal of becoming a fully-trained chef. I have learnt so much and had great fun at the same time! The bonus of doing an apprenticeship is that I am earning my own money while I’m learning. I’m also guaranteed a job after the course has finished. What more could you ask for?

I get so much support from my Head Chef, Leon Higham, as well as the whole team at The Rose & Crown. Jim makes sure that I understand the tasks that I’m given and teaches me new skills that I can put straight into practice in the kitchen. I even enjoy my assessments – it doesn’t even feel like I’m being assessed, just having a lesson because it’s great fun!

An apprenticeship course is a fantastic opportunity to carry on studying whilst gaining valuable work experience with a regular salary. I would highly recommend choosing one!

Rebbecca Johnson, Laura-Marie Slatem, Scott Bransby

College Apprenticeship Team Go Back To The Floor

Members of Stratford-upon-Avon College’s Work Based Learning Team have been sent “back to the floor” to experience daily life as an apprentice.

To mark National Apprenticeship Week, College Apprenticeship Assessors rolled up their sleeves and worked alongside the trainee professionals they usually teach to gain an insight into the operational practices of local employers and to better understand the viewpoint of an apprentice.

On Tuesday, Apprentice Assessor Rebecca Johnson spent the afternoon working in the bar of QHotel’s Stratford Manor, receiving training in the preparation of food and drinks, in taking payments and in customer service from Food and Beverage Apprentice Scott Bransby and Hospitality Apprentice Laura-Marie Slatem.

Hannah Benjamin, Human Resource Officer at Stratford Manor praised the quality of apprentices they have received for the College. “Our relationship with Stratford-upon-Avon College has not only enriched our business, it has created the foundations of students’ futures through the support of the dedicated Apprenticeship Team. We have shining students in both kitchen and general hospitality roles, where they have gone on to win group-level chef competitions, become apprenticeship ambassadors and represented us at local events for both the College and QHotels. The College are very understanding of the skillset we look for and the personality to match our business style, and we look forward to welcoming new apprentices for our July and September intake.”

Wednesday saw newly-appointed Assessor Alison Dean working in several departments in the College itself, alongside three apprentices employed there full time. After enjoying a spell on the reception desk taking calls and meeting visitors with Business Administration apprentice Leigh-Ann Penman, Alison joined Kirsty Fox in Student Services, before teaming up with Kate Parker in Marketing to help look after the College’s social media channels.

Throughout Thursday morning, Work Based Learning Team Leader Bryan Anderson reported for his shift at Fourteas Café on Sheep Street in Stratford-upon-Avon. He assisted Hospitality Apprentice Elliott Wallis as part of the front-of-house team serving customers, including regular patron Margret Callaghan. Margret praised the friendly atmosphere of the café. “We really enjoy coming here as it’s run so well with lovely staff. No matter the size of your group or how long you stay, they always make you feel welcome and accommodate you. They have a great team here and it’s the perfect place to learn the excellent customer service skills you would need to work in catering.”

Having spent the day helping Bryan learn the ropes, Elliot praised his trainer’s work ethic. “Bryan is doing wonderfully well – although he does have a little bit more experience than most new starters. I would definitely hire him!”

Finishing his shift, Bryan said “I really enjoyed my time at Fourteas today and it gave me a real insight into the challenges my apprentices face every day at work. I never knew that different blends of tea require different brewing times and how useful an egg timer is to get the perfect cuppa!”

Business Administration Apprentice Martin Dunsby

The Road to a Successful Career: My Apprenticeship Journey

By Martin Dunsby, former Business Administration Apprentice

Getting started. It’s got to be the biggest hurdle to career success: how to get your foot in the door when every job advert states ‘applicants must have experience’.

Having completed an IT course at university in 2008, I found myself in this very situation. It felt like every position I wanted to apply for required me to have already worked in the industry!

Which was when, looking through the local paper, I spotted an advert for Business and Administration apprenticeship positions at Stratford-upon-Avon College.

After a successful interview, which was itself a valuable experience, I started working in the College’s own MIS (Management Information Services) department as an apprentice. I gained invaluable experience working within an office environment, and also acquired many new skills and furthered my expertise from the training provided by the College’s Work Based Learning team.

I had a fantastic time throughout the training programme. But my good luck didn’t end there! Once I had completed the apprenticeship, I was thrilled to discover the opportunity to stay on at the College on a permanent basis, in the same role as a MIS Administrator. I later progressed to another job within the MIS department as a MIS Data Analyst, where I was able to use the knowledge and skills acquired as an apprentice to perform the tasks that were needed for my new role.

After working in this position for two years, I saw a Service Desk position had become available in the IT department of the College; a great opportunity for me to put my university education into practice. Another successful interview followed and I am currently working as an IT Service Desk Technician – a position I love.

Having attended full-time education, I firmly believe taking an apprenticeship provided me with the skills, knowledge and experience to help me to progress to where I am now. I would highly recommend apprenticeships to anyone passionate about making their mark in a new career. So go for it – you’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Professional Cookery Apprentice Akela Nevelli (left) with No 9 Church Street Chef/Proprietor Wayne Thomson

International Student Follows His Dreams to Stratford

An aspiring chef has spread his wings and sought to master his culinary skills outside his native Italy. With the whole of Europe and a choice of countries with impressive histories of fine food to hand, he chose Stratford-upon-Avon, after his grandmother, who lives in the Warwickshire town, recommended the superb catering training provided by the local College.

Passionate about becoming a successful chef, Akela Nevelli, aged 21, approached the Work Based Learning team at the College, who helped him secure an advanced apprenticeship in Professional Cookery at the restaurant No 9 Church Street, under the mentoring of Chef/Proprietor Wayne Thomson. Wayne himself started his catering career by training for three years at Stratford-upon-Avon College, before moving to London to work at some of the most prestigious establishments in the capital: The Savoy, Claridge’s, Monte’s of Sloane Street and L’Odeon, working under culinary luminaries such as John Williams, Alain Ducasse, Bruno Loubet and Anthony Demetre.

Akela counts himself extremely fortunate to have Wayne as his mentor – a National Finalist of both the National Chef of the Year competition and The Roux Scholarship, and a recipient of The Academy of Culinary Arts’ Annual Award of Excellence. In addition to passing on his expertise, Wayne has given Akela the opportunity to learn all areas of the kitchen as well as taking him to see suppliers and markets to choose the best ingredients.

Commenting on Akela’s apprenticeship, Wayne said, “I’m passionate about offering opportunities to young chefs like Akela because it offers him the chance to develop Commis Chefs skills from scratch. Also, having apprentices working in the restaurant showcases to my other staff the amazing opportunities for career development that are available to them.”

Akela himself is convinced he made the right decision in choosing to become an apprentice in Stratford: “I have really benefited from my Apprenticeship as it has allowed me to develop the practical skills to work as a chef and, as the course is so closely linked to my work with Wayne, I feel that my skills and understanding have developed far faster than if I had just taken a full- or part-time course.”

Emma Stringman

Apprentice of the Month – January 2017

Congratulations to Level 2 Health and Social Care apprentice Emma Stringman — January 2017’s Apprentice of the Month.

Emma’s manager at Homeinstead (Stratford-upon-Avon), Dan Phillips, commented:

Emma has worked exceptionally hard in order to overcome her fear of maths and to improve her confidence. She puts in a great amount of additional work outside of her lessons, and this can clearly be seen in the improvement she has made. She is an outstanding student who fully deserves this award and future success.

Are you aged 16+? Do you wish to combine working and earning while learning a professional skill? Would you like to gain nationally recognised qualifications?

Head Chef Nick Deverell-Smith and Commis Chef Matthew Young

Award Winning Restaurateur Gives Aspiring Chefs a Career Boost

An award-winning Warwickshire chef and restaurateur is determined to provide greater employment opportunities for young people in rural communities, and has recently rewarded one of his own former apprentices with a much-sought-after full-time post.

Nick Deverell-Smith, Head Chef and proprietor of boutique Cotswold pub The Churchill Arms in the village of Paxford, decided to hire a Professional Cookery Apprentice through Stratford-upon-Avon College in October last year. Wanting to offer greater opportunity to aspiring chefs in rural communities, Nick explained, “I was an apprentice myself. I had the opportunity to train at Simpsons in Kenilworth, in my opinion the best restaurant in the area, under some fantastic chefs such as Glynn Purnell. I think there’s no better way than learning on the job.

“I always wanted to own my own restaurant. When I left school I wasn’t very confident at all but here I am now. To be able to give that opportunity to other young people is hugely rewarding.”

Nick, who won Junior Chef of the Year in 2000 and has worked under both Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White, turned to the College’s Work-Based Learning Team to arrange and advertise the apprenticeship. “When I opened The Churchill Arms, I got in touch with Stratford-upon-Avon College to perform some catering demonstrations for the students, and I was very impressed with the standard of chefs they were producing. So they were the obvious choice when it came to choosing an apprenticeship training provider.”

The apprenticeship was eagerly snapped up by 17-year-old Matthew Young. Under the expert guidance of Nick and his team, Matthew’s skill and confidence grow by the day and he has developed into a first-class commis chef. Reflecting on his training, Matthew said, “I definitely feel I learnt faster than I would have on a full-time course. I also got to practice my skills a lot more often. I was able to send my work to a customer and get their feedback instantly which was very helpful.”

The experience of developing an apprentice with the College has proved highly beneficial to Nick. “An apprentice needs time and patience but Matthew runs a whole section for me now. I can actually take a day off work now which wasn’t possible before!”

“I’m looking to recruit at least one other apprentice which will reinforce my team even further. Now Matthew will be the gold standard for any new apprentices I have. He’s evidence of how much you can achieve if you really put the hours in.”

Apprenticeship Team Leader Bryan Anderson is very impressed by Matthew’s achievements. “For any young chef confidence is key. I’ve seen Matthew grow and adapt and now you can see he feels much more self-assured. Matthew’s in charge of all cold starters and desserts and already has ambitions to progress further under Nick’s expert guidance.”

The Churchill Arms brings a contemporary feel to a 17th Century pub, with a ‘Best of British’ theme, and makes extensive use of local produce, sourced daily from the surrounding countryside. For more information, please visit the website www.churchillarms.co