The awards are run by the Express & Star with winners to be announced at Walsall Football Club’s Bescot Stadium on November 16.
Judges from the awards sponsors visited the board room at the newspaper’s offices in Queen Street, Wolverhampton, on September 13 to judge the 11 categories.
Express & Star Editor Martin Wright welcomed the sponsors and told them: “This is the second time we have held these awards – and we are delighted to be able to stage them to once again showcase the best and brightest young and mature learners and those organisations who are finding new ways to drive aspiration and education through their apprenticeship programmes.
“When we launched these awards – in partnership with the Ladder for the Black Country – last year, we weren’t sure what sort of response and support we would receive. We had no need to worry. The awards attracted support from sponsors, employers, providers and – perhaps most importantly – the apprentices themselves.
“Not only did we have an excellent standard of entries, we also had a fantastic evening for the awards themselves. Anybody who was lucky enough to attend the event at Grand Station in Wolverhampton will not forget the air of celebration and emotion. It was a resounding success – which is why we are so pleased the awards are returning.
“Of course, when we started planning the 2023 awards we didn’t just want a repeat of 2022 – we wanted them to be an even bigger, better celebration of apprenticeships in and around the Black Country and Staffordshire.
“And we are certainly on track to deliver. We have received more entries this year – an increase of 40 per cent compared to last year in fact – and once again, the standard is exceptional.”
He said that Walsall Council was headline sponsor this year and the awards night promised to be another magical night of celebration for apprentices and providers.
Mr Wright thanked all category sponsors for supporting the awards and making the event possible.
“Without your generous support, these awards would not be happening. So a very sincere thank you from me on behalf of the Express & Star and the Ladder for the Black Country and Staffordshire.
“At the Express & Star, we are passionate about promoting apprenticeships. They create great opportunities for our young people – and great opportunities for employers – like the Express & Star – to develop local talent.
“These awards are all about celebrating success of apprentices and the organisations that deliver them. So much great work is done around the region every day – and our aim is to give individuals and organisations involved in this vital area the recognition they so richly deserve.”
Kevin Davis, chairman of the Ladder Apprenticeship Foundation, said he was really excited about the awards returning and especially to see them staged in Walsall.
“Walsall is my home town and I am passionate about bringing on apprentices.
“I am grateful to the Express & Star for partnering with us once again. It is nearly 10 years since we established the Ladder for the Black Country.
“I want to wish all the candidates the best of luck and look forward to the announcement of all the winners in November.”
The finalists are due to be announced next week in the Express & Star and online.
The awards sponsors are: Busy Bees, Compass Group, Halesowen College, Higgs, Kuka Systems, National Grid, Silvaman Group, SPV Special Projects, The Apprenticeship Works, Voestalpine Metsec and Wolverhampton Homes.
Walsall Council sponsors the overall apprentice of the year.