Twenty-five apprentices have graduated from the Real Apprentice scheme, run by MITIE, the FTSE 250 strategic outsourcing company.
The ceremony, held at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in London yesterday, was hosted by Ruby McGregor Smith CBE, Chief Executive of MITIE.
The Real Apprentice Scheme partners the unemployed with MITIE or its clients for an eight week business placement involving dedicated mentoring and training.
Two apprentices – Richard Williams and James Ali – were awarded £500 each for overcoming significant personal challenges to complete the scheme.
Richard, from Leyton in East London, was referred to the scheme via Crisis, the national charity for homeless people, and took up a placement with Diageo in MITIE’s catering team.
A former rough sleeper himself, Richard brought a broad range of experience to the scheme, including skills in facilities management, fire systems, catering and landscaping.
Despite facing difficult circumstances, Richard worked nights as a volunteer with Groundswell, the charity that works to enable homeless and vulnerable people take greater control of their lives, alongside completing his placement.
James, from Camberwell, who had just two weeks work experience in a kitchen to his name prior to joining the scheme, received his award for the dedication he showed working for The Brewery, with MITIE’s catering team.
The experience has been life-changing for James, and has given him the confidence to strive to fulfil his potential. As a result, he’s secured a permanent job with MITIE’s team at The Brewery.
James said: “The Real Apprentice has been a really positive experience. It’s given me the chance to improve my skills, challenge myself, and focus on my career. I’ve gained so much from it, and enjoyed the entire experience!”
Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE, Chief Executive of MITIE, said: “At MITIE we are passionate about providing people of all backgrounds with opportunities to succeed. The calibre of this year’s apprentices is outstanding and I congratulate all of them on their hard work and commitment.
“The Real Apprentice connects organisations with people who get to develop their skills and confidence, and adds real value as a result. We’re really proud of how this scheme has grown and had a positive impact on every individual and organisation involved.”
Bank of America Merrill Lynch, who hosted the awards ceremony and employers day, has supported the Real Apprentice since 2006 and to date has provided placements to six apprentices on its London sites, five of whom have secured permanent jobs on site.
Ian Crowe, International Corporate Services Executive at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, who co-presented the awards, said, “The 2013 Real Apprentice graduates are a shining example of what can be achieved when businesses collaborate with the community. We were pleased to have helped facilitate these connections and hope that this will open up new opportunities for the apprentices.
“We congratulate the award-winners, James and Richard – and all the Real Apprentices – and wish them the very best in their future careers.”