The Express & Star, which is backing the awards, hosted the process in the board room at its Queen Street head office in Wolverhampton.
Editor in Chief Martin Wright told judges from sponsoring firms, including headline sponsor City of Wolverhampton Council, that the brand new campaign, run in partnership with Ladder for the Black Country which the Express & Star helped launch in 2014, aimed to promote apprenticeships across the region.
“Through the Ladder hundreds of opportunities for young people had already been created,” he said.
“We are really proud of the work that has been done in this area and are passionate about supporting apprenticeships.”
Mr Wright said that employers, including the Express & Star, had developed and nurtured young talent through the Ladder campaign.
“I am really pleased that City of Wolverhampton Council has joined as headline sponsor for the awards,” he added.
Mr Wright said the awards would put the best apprentices in the Black Country in the spotlight.
“It feels more important than ever to recognise the contribution that apprentices and apprenticeships make to Wolverhampton and the wider Black Country,” he said.
“We had a really good response and this has created an excellent platform to build on in the future. Shortlisting has been a tough task and choosing the winners in each category will be even more difficult.”
Rob Colbourne, managing director of Walsall-based Performance Through People and one of the leaders of Ladder for the Black Country, said that since the Express & Star had helped start the Ladder campaign it had spread to Shropshire, Staffordshire, Greater Birmingham and now Coventry and Warwickshire.
The campaign had exceeded targets for apprenticeship creation in the Black Country and a new £3m Ladder school was being built, he said.
“The Express & Star is our closest media partner and it felt really right to start the Black Country Awards. We were thrilled when Martin and his team agreed to that.
“I am looking forward to an exciting awards night in November.”
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