Level 2 apprentice at Eastleigh College, Ben Cornmell, has secured a place in the national final for the coverted title of ‘Apprentice of the Year 2019’.
Run by the National Apprenticeship Service, which is part of the Government’s Skills Funding Agency, the awards provide a platform to showcase excellence in and raise awareness of apprenticeships at all levels and across all industries.
Ben, who is at the higher functioning end of the autistic spectrum, is one of the first in the UK to study for a supported apprenticeship and works with chimney sweep and stove installation company, Waltham Black, which is based in Bishops Waltham. He said: “I'm amazed to have made it this far in the competition. I'm overwhelmed!"
Ben is 12 months into his 18-month facilities service apprenticeship. His duties include introducing himself to clients on arrival, smoke testing to check the integrity of the chimney, providing safety and sustainable fuel advice and helping with repairs. He is in the process of learning to fit stoves and is ambitious to take over an area of his own once he is fully qualified.
He added: “Working with Waltham Black, with support from the apprenticeship team at Eastleigh College, provides one-to-one coaching and has enabled me to get new skills. I like being trusted with more responsibility, and it’s good to know I am working towards a qualification.
Waltham Black’s owner, Neil Cornmell, said: “We're very proud of Ben, and pleased he is getting independent, exernal recognition for his hard work. We initially offered Ben a supported internship. I’m also his uncle and welcomed the opportunity to help him gain some work experience and employability skills. He did so well, and this naturally progressed to a formal apprenticeship. The support Ben gets from the college has been reassuring."
Eastleigh College apprenticeship assessor and mentor, Erin Cornwell, who attended the South East Regional event with Ben, added: “Ben is an absolute legend. I didn’t hesitate in nominating him for the National Apprenticeship Awards, and I'm thrilled he has been selected for the final.
"He has consistently impressed us with his hard work, progress and achievement. Over and above gaining excellent technical knowledge and ability, he has made leaps and bounds with communication and interaction with customers. His progress is a shining example of how apprentices excel when they, their employer and training provider work seamlessly together."
Eastleigh College has provided training for apprentices for almost 15 years, and was the first college in the UK to introduce supported apprenticeships last year. Apprenticeships can start any time of the year and are available within a range of careers at various levels including Intermediate, Advanced, Higher and Degree.
Eastleigh College hosted a hustings ahead of this week's general election, giving students and apprentices the opportunity to hear from and question representatives from parties standing for the Eastleigh constituency. Paul Holmes (Conservatives), Sam Jordan (Labour) and Rob Meldrum (Green) attended the event along with ex Liberal Democrat MP, Mike Thornton, who represented local candidate, Lynda Murphy.
Eastleigh College is offering an alternative gift this Christmas, the gift of a new hobby!