The very best of England’s apprentices, apprentice employers, champions and rising stars have been celebrated at the 18th annual National Apprenticeship Awards, whcih took place on Wednesday 1 December 2021.

For the first time ever a hybrid event was hosted with finalists, sponsors, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi and Minister for Skills Alex Burghart in attendance at 30 Euston Square, London.  The event was also live streamed with family, friends and supporters from across the apprenticeship community able to join in the celebrations online.

Strictly Come Dancing and BBC star Dan Walker returned to host the Awards for a second year.  Apprentices, at all levels and from sectors including retail and commercial, digital and manufacturing, alongside employers from the science, public services and engineering and manufacturing sectors were announced as winners.  10 winners and 18 highly commended finalists were recognised from across all nine English regions.

The National Apprenticeship Awards shine the spotlight on business and individual success in apprenticeships, and how apprenticeships can boost business success and lead to dream careers.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “I would like to pass on my personal congratulations to all the award winners and highly commended entries.  It was a pleasure to attend the ceremony, and to have the opportunity to take part in a celebration which recognises the very best apprenticeship employers and their dedicated and driven apprentices.  Apprenticeships are key to supporting the country to level up skills and opportunity and recognising the commitment of these employers and individuals further highlights their importance.”

The National Apprenticeship Awards 2021 winners and two highly commended in each category can be viewed on: National Apprenticeship Awards 2021 national winners unveiled – GOV.UK (

The National Apprenticeship Awards 2021 also recognised how employers and apprentices are contributing to business recovery and highlighting those who have shown their ongoing resilience as we move toward a post Covid-19 world through ‘Apprentices in Action’.  Apprentices submitted their stories, verified by their employer, as entries for this years’ Special Recognition Award in association with Ernst and Young – with the winner announced as Paige Orwig from AstraZeneca.

When COVID-19 pandemic was declared and the UK went into lockdown, Paige Orwig was part of a team of Drug Metabolism Pharmacokinetic scientist’s whose work was considered by the government to be essential research for cancer research and as such, when lab work was required, scientists made the exceptional effort to continue to visit the site and carry out their work under extraordinary circumstances.

In April 2020 it was announced that AstraZeneca, GSK and the University of Cambridge would be collaborating to build a lighthouse COVID-19 testing lab.  Paige immediately volunteered for this opportunity, willing to put her time, effort and expertise into the fight against this global pandemic.  Within her main role in sample preparation Paige quickly established herself as an organised, professional and extremely capable scientist and within weeks was assigned as deputy team lead for her sample preparation room.

Paige adjusted her study time around her new role, and through all the adversity was successful in her Chemistry Foundation Degree in Chemical Sciences at the University of Kent as well the SIAS Laboratory Scientist Level 5 Apprenticeship with a distinction.  Paige’s exceptional and voluntary support of the Cambridge COVID-19 Test Centre shows her passion for science and improving the lives of patients across all disease areas.  Paige quickly became an integral member of the team at the test centre and her hard work posed as an inspiration to her colleagues and fellow apprentices.

If you employ and apprentice that has gone above and beyond why not enter them for an award.