Microsoft Apprentice of the Year Awards 2014 – The Results!

After what seemed like an eternity in the sweltering heat of the Strangers Dining room within the Houses of Parliament, the results for the Microsoft Apprentice of the Year and Employers of the Year were announced! This year the awards were issued in a slightly different format to the traditional single Apprentice award and single Employer award that we have seen in the past, instead there were 6 key categories for Small, Medium and Large Business Apprentices and Employers, with one overall winner for both parties and runner ups in each category. This change is no doubt brought on by the vast increase in Microsoft Partner Apprenticeships in the last 12 months.


There can only be one overall winner though and after meeting him face to face I can safely say that the winner of the Microsoft Apprentice of the Year award, Alex Small of Penman IT was definitely very deserving of the spotlight. His incredible work ethic, ambition and potential was obvious and he has already created a fantastic foundation and springboard towards a successful career. I look forward to welcoming him into our Microsoft Ambassador community and know that he will be a valuable asset to both the team and the Microsoft Apprenticeship scheme in the future!

Here’s what Alex had to say after finding out he had clinched the award:  “I have been on the phone to all of my friends and family all morning, it’s been more than amazing! I would never in a million years have imagined that I would have been nominated for such an award and also been given the chance to collect it at the Houses of Parliament. My next career step will be focused on helping young adults and apprentices gain the same invaluable experience as I did.”


After winning the Microsoft Apprentice Employer of the Year Award last year it was interesting this time around to see who would knock Adatis off the top spot in 2014. The award went to leading cloud computing provider Cloudamour who were commended for their long-term development plans and excellent training programme. They were also commended for having 20% of their workforce as apprentices.

While Alex and Cloudamour were awarded the top spots in this years award, all of this years winners and runners up were very deserving and a pleasure to meet. It makes me very excited to see what the future of Microsoft Apprenticeships will hold now that we have even more ambitious and motivated potential Ambassadors helping to guide the industry. A special congratulations though to my fellow Firebrand Apprentice, Kimberley Bolton who won her Microsoft Apprentice of the Year category after coming into the industry with no prior IT knowledge or training, I look forward to working with you in the future.

Left to right: Theresa May (Home Secretary), Kimberley Bolton (Apprentice), Michelle Van der Bel (Managing Director of Microsoft UK)

Left to right: Theresa May (Home Secretary), Kimberley Bolton (Apprentice), Michelle Van der Bel (Managing Director of Microsoft UK)

The Microsoft apprenticeship programme is part of the company’s commitment to provide the relevant training and skills to young people in the UK, and help them succeed through technology. Microsoft works with training providers QA, Firebrand, Baltic, Remit, Future Unlimited and IT Skillsman, and thousands of its partners across the UK to deliver the apprenticeships. The Apprentice of the Year Awards also recognise the support provided by this network of partner businesses and training providers.

The Microsoft apprenticeship scheme is an important element of the company’s Get On programme, which aims to help 300,000 young people in Britain by 2015. Microsoft developed the Partner Apprenticeship to help businesses access the talent they need, and as a way for young people to gain high quality IT skills and long term employment. Since 2010, Microsoft has facilitated apprenticeship opportunities for over 5,000 young people.

Hugh Milward, Director of Corporate Affairs, Microsoft said:
‘‘Microsoft is delighted to celebrate the achievements of all our winners and finalists. There is a huge wealth of talent in the UK and it’s important to acknowledge the tremendous commitment of employers and their apprentices, who have developed their skills during tough economic times.”
“The great news is that these young people are now firmly on the career ladder; 93% of Microsoft apprentices stay with our partner businesses and move into a fully qualified role. These awards recognise their hard work, determination and achievements, which will stand them in good stead for a successful career in IT and will help maintain the talent pipeline in the UK.’’

Nadhim Zahawi MP said:
“Apprenticeships make a vital contribution to our economy and equip young people with the skills they need to realise their potential. Our reforms are making apprenticeships more rigorous and more responsive to the needs of employers. We’re also driving up the quality of vocational education and putting a major emphasis on basic skills in English, maths and also ICT. Yet a strong skills system ultimately depends on companies like Microsoft, who actively support aspirational young people and provide them with the training they need to get into the workplace and get on in life. It’s great to be here today to celebrate the fantastic achievements and hard work of these apprentices and their employers.”

Microsoft has worked to help people in the UK find jobs for more than a decade. In 2009, it launched Britain Works, the company’s commitment to helping 500,000 people into employment, which it achieved through a combination of partnerships with NGOs, skills training and apprenticeships – which are a crucial way of finding talent, developing skills and fueling the talent pipeline of the IT industry. The Get On programme builds on Britain Works and is specifically aimed at helping 16-24 years olds as youth unemployment remains an issue in the UK.

Keep up the fantastic work Apprentices! 🙂

The 2014 Microsoft Apprentice of the Year Awards winning employers are: Small Employer of the Year – Cloudamour in Hertfordshire; Medium Employer of the Year – Optimity in London; Large Employer of the Year – Cisco Systems in Reading. The overall winning employer was Cloudamour

The 2014 Microsoft Apprentice of the Year Awards winning Apprentices are: Apprentice in a small employer – Alexander Small from Penman IT in London; Apprentice in a medium employer – Kimberley Bolton from Pythagoras in Maidenhead; Apprentice in a large employer –Thomas Herring from KCOM in Hull. The overall Microsoft Apprentice of the Year 2014 is Alexander Small from Penman IT


Microsoft Apprentice of the Year Awards 2014 – Next Week!

Its hard to believe that a full year has passed since the 2013 awards ceremony at which my employer at the time (Adatis) won Employer of the year and I was nominated for Apprentice of the year, but here I am a year older and wiser about to return to the Houses of Parliament for the 2014 awards ceremony. This time however I shall be there not as an Apprentice or Nominee but as a fully qualified industry professional with a new job, representing both Microsoft’s Apprentice Ambassadors and Gold partner firm Altius by helping to demonstrate to MP’s and Employers alike the value of Apprentices and Apprenticeships to a business and the economy and showing the ongoing commitment that both Microsoft and their partners have to the development of youth education and the IT Sector in the UK.

To all the nominee Apprentices and Employers I wish you the best of luck and look forward to meeting you all on Monday! And to those of you looking for a way into a fantastic career or looking to grow your existing business I urge you to take a look at what the Microsoft Apprenticeship Scheme has to offer, I cannot recommend it enough!


Here is a short video highlighting the Microsoft Apprentice of the Year Awards 2013:

(Keep an eye out for me at 0.45, I promise I’ll have a nicer shirt this year! Smileys)

New Job, New challenges…

For those of you who don’t follow me on LinkedIn or Twitter, I’m happy to announce that I am moving into a new role at leading BI firm Altius. I will be starting work within their rapidly expanding team as part of the Managed Services division as the Primary Support Analyst for a number of industry leading Microsoft technology based BI clients. This is a really exciting move that will help to develop and refine the skills I’ve learnt over the last 2 years as an Apprentice and Junior BI Consultant at Adatis, a team which I will dearly miss but will no doubt see and hear about again in the small world of BI. I cannot thank the Adatis team enough for the experience and training they have given me and wish them all the best! My new role will no doubt be a challenge but I’m looking forward to taking it head on, whilst continuing to support the Microsoft Apprenticeship program as one of their Education Ambassadors.


Heres a bit more about Altius taken from their website:

“We specialise in providing management intelligence solutions that help drive business insights. We do this by combining industry best practice, advanced technology engineering and amazing user interface design to surface information across a range of desktop, tablet and mobile devices.

We work with our clients across four key areas:

Strategy – Defining how information can help drive business performance including: defining a vision; product selection; implementation roadmap and project ROI models.

Solutions– Enabling better use of data and information to identify where the opportunity is. Then implementing strategies for sourcing, managing and delivering this data to end users that helps drive action and business improvement.

Digital Design – Applying User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) design principles to transform how data is presented and visualised across devices.

Managed Services – A fully managed service ranging from ad-hoc resource augmentation during key business periods, through to the full outsourcing of a data warehouse. We provide supporting solutions that include the provision of specialist analytics for specific data projects. Our service covers the cloud, hosting, application and insight services.

We specialise in:

The Microsoft BI platform which includes SharePoint 2010, SQL Server 2008, Microsoft Analysis Services (MSAS), Microsoft Integration Services (MSIS), Reporting Services (MSRS), Visual Studio, PowerPivot, Bing Maps, Office and Silverlight. We are a Microsoft Gold Business Intelligence Partner.

The Oracle EPM platform which includes Oracle Planning, Oracle HFM, Oracle Essbase, Hyperion Profitability and Cost Management (HPCM) and OBIEE. We have over fifteen years’ experience with the Oracle EPM | BI platform. We are an Oracle Gold Partner.”


Technology Careers at Microsoft featuring myself and Suli Breaks

Suli Breaks is a UK spoken word artist, YouTuber and advocate for diverse forms of education. Let him take you on a journey into the world of I.T. apprenticeships, with Dominic Gill from Microsoft UK, Marcus & Brian from Reading College, and current apprentices, Reena & Tom.

This film is part of City and Guilds #OpenDoors series, showing you the variety of careers open to you, in the run up to the Skills Show 2013.
Subscribe now and stay tuned.

I’ll be speaking at the Microsoft Insights Conference 2013 tomorrow regarding Apprenticeships at 5PM GMT, Join me online to learn how to gain a foothold in the IT Industry!

Click Here to Register for the Event for Free!

Are you an IT Professional, Developer, student, job seeker, recruiter or hiring manager?

Do you find yourself asking these questions?

  • What skills are required to succeed in technology roles today and in the future?
  • Where do I find the training and resources to gain the skills I need?
  • What is the earning and growth potential for my chosen technology career path?
  • Is technical certification the right choice for me?

Join us on Tuesday, October 29 as we kick off the first of a new Microsoft Insights event series. This half-day online event will include:

9:00am-10:00am PDT Our panel of experts will reveal research data and share their perspectives on technology employment and earning trends. Discover where the emerging opportunities are, and gain insights into the training resources that will put you ahead of the pack.

10:10am-12:00pm PDT Technologists from various industries and backgrounds will share their views on the skillsets and credentials in demand now. Get the story directly from those who have been working, learning and finding success.

Event attendees on October 29 also have the chance to win a certification exam pack, valued at US$450. Register now!