Skills for the Future Award


Category criteria

  • This category will recognise businesses committed to the ongoing training, professional development and upskilling of their workforce.
  • This can be via in-house training or external training providers and/or colleges or universities.

Langley Alloys

Skills for the Future entrant

From having no apprentices in 2022 Langley Alloys now has eight with more in the process of being recruited.
The specialist distributor of high-performance alloys sees apprenticeships as a sustainable way to support business growth and has made it a cornerstone of its workforce development strategy.
The business was founded 80 years ago to produce novel alloys and now exports to more than 50 countries. It has an expanding team of 65 staff based at its headquarters in Wolstanton, a second site in Fenton and a newly acquired business in Congleton.
Director Rodney Rice said: “Langley Alloys’s effective use of apprenticeships has been instrumental in our growth. We have maximised the potential of apprenticeships to support our success.
“Looking ahead, we plan to use the apprenticeship model to upskill and develop current employees. This includes apprenticeships focusing on ultrasonic inspection, a specialist process we perform in-house for mission-critical applications in the chemical process industries and the oil and gas sectors. We are also exploring team leadership, customer service and degree apprenticeships.
“Apprenticeships have had an incredibly positive impact on our business. As a recruitment method, apprentices are more loyal, reducing staff turnover. By training apprentices in-house, we tailor their learning experiences to meet our specific needs, ensuring a highly skilled and job-ready workforce.
“They bring fresh ideas and perspectives that invigorate our business. The opportunity to use this mechanism for the development of existing colleagues means we will continue to expand our apprenticeship program.”
The company took on its first apprentice in 2022, a warehouse apprentice working on the operational side of the business and supported by Stoke-on-Trent College. Soon afterwards a business administration apprentice joined the company’s sales team.
From late 2022 onwards the apprenticeship program was extended with six more apprentices including roles in warehouse and business administration as well as positions in accounting, finance, and technical functions. The company is currently recruiting for additional apprenticeship positions.
Langley Alloys has entered the Skills For The Future category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Carson Powell Construction

Skills For The Future entrant

At Stoke-on-Trent construction and maintenance company Carson Powell more than 10% of the staff are currently apprentices and 67% of employees are a current apprentice or started their career that way.
The business, which was founded in 2009 and now has a team of 94, has a policy of matching its apprentices with skilled mentors within the staff and ensuring that learning goes both ways – with apprentices often teaching digital skills to their mentors.
Carson Powell Construction took on its first 16-year-old apprentices in 2011, one of whom is now a project manager responsible for a £1million+ development in the city.
In 2023 the company’s first degree apprentice graduated with first class honours in building surveying and is now completing his professional membership to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
Around 96% of the company’s staff live in ST postcodes and it’s proud to have recruited apprentices or employees from disadvantaged or vulnerable households where neither parent has a job, where a parent was in prison or where education wasn’t supported in the home.
Even if they are not an apprentice, every team member is given the opportunity to ensure they have the correct skills for their job including external and in-house training, providing opportunities for management and trade development.
Investment in training has increased in 2023/24 for the company with the aim of reaping the benefits in the long term by not spending as much time and money recruiting.
During National Apprentice Week Carson Powell Managing Director Neil Powell ran a team building day for apprentices and their managers. The company looks forward to welcoming four more apprentices in September 2024.
Carson Powell Construction has entered the Skills For The Future category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Ultra Clean Canines

Skills For The Future entrant

An animal-loving Staffordshire entrepreneur has set up a training academy combining her teaching qualifications and expertise with an ultrasonic toothbrush for pets.
Emma Cartlich, from Weston Coyney, created Ultra Clean Canines after her husband Adrian qualified as a dog groomer.
Emma and Adrian both completed emmi®-pet face-to-face training, bought an emmi®-pet ultrasonic toothbrush and started to deliver the emmi®-pet teeth cleaning, oral care and maintenance service in the Staffordshire and Cheshire area.
They then decided to create and deliver emmi®-pet seminars to teach and support pet care professionals, especially dog groomers, how to successfully implement the emmi®-pet into their business. Emma’s dream of running her own training academy was born.
She said: “Education is key to ensure that not just dog owners but pet care professionals understand the importance of why a pet requires a regular oral routine and the importance of the emmi®-pet preventative service.
“My mission is to ensure pet care professionals have the correct knowledge and understating to cascade to their customers.
“Approximately 80% of dogs and cats already show signs of dental disease around the age of two. Regularly cleaning of a pet’s teeth is the most important factor in preventing dental disease.”
Emma created a Zoom seminar for pet care professionals and offers the same course as an online pre-recorded version which is hosted on her own learning management system.
All courses are officially endorsed by the manufacturer of the equipment and include certification.
The word spread and Emma was approached by a dog grooming college to deliver training to their trainees and course tutors.
Emma added: “It’s a real passion of mine to ensure pet care professionals excel with the emmi®-pet toothbrush, receive ongoing support, achieve great results, are educated correctly in the importance of oral care and prevention in dogs to prevent dental disease and deterioration, and how to improve canine oral health and general wellbeing.”
Emma has been approached to support the ongoing educational implementation of the emmi®-pet into the US market.
She is also in the final stages of launching an online pre-recorded training course to teach dog owners how to use the emmi®-pet at home, maintain their dog’s oral health, identify dental issues and when their dogs need to visit the vet as the emmi®-pet is not designed to replace dog dentals or descaling but used as a preventive and maintenance service.
Emma has entered the Entrepreneur of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards and has entered Ultra Clean Canines into the Skills for the Future category.

Adele de Caso

Skills For The Future entrant

Adele de Caso is testament to the fact that shy people can be just as successful in the business world as extroverts.
The 52-year-old runs three businesses, is a published author and gives talks and workshops to help other people become successful - including mentoring young people who are about to set foot in the workplace for the first time.
Adele, from Trentham, founded the personal development and mentoring brand The Shy Entrepreneur after writing her first book in 2009. She writes books, writes and delivers training courses, has a blog and records YouTube videos.
She also runs a network marketing business with a team of several hundred people and owns dog daycare and boarding business Paco’s Place which has 50,000 social media followers and has attracted more than two million views for some of its social media reels.
The Staffordshire University alumna graduated in Biology and Environmental Science and began her career working in the haematology department at what is now the UHNM.
She joined a network marketing business as a side hustle but reached a point where her income from that part-time job was more than her day job at the hospital.
“It was network marketing that introduced me to personal growth and development,” said Adele. “I began doing little talks which got bigger and bigger until I was speaking on stage in front of thousands of people at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham.
“I remember thinking that this doesn’t happen to people like me. So I decided to write a book to share my story with other people that are shy and lacking in confidence or that may not believe in themselves.
“My first book is a very simple, straightforward and easy to read. I share my story and positive changes that people can make.”
Adele says she loves running her three businesses in tandem and that each draws on different skills and passions.
“Every day is different. If I have a quieter day with one business then I focus on the others.
“The key is to find things that suit your personality and things that you are naturally drawn to that you love doing.”
Adele is currently working on a book proposal for a publisher and has the long-term aim of opening a personal development café where people can enjoy a coffee while they read motivational books.
She has been nominated in the Entrepreneur of the Year, Alumni Business Person of the Year and Skills for the Future categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Fifteen Group

Skills For The Future entrant

What we do isn’t unique but we do need to be the best at what we do. To achieve that we invest heavily in our staff’s personal development and learning,” says Fifteen Group Director Ian Walker.
The Stoke-on-Trent company specialises in providing telecommunications, IT, Fire and Security efficient technology solutions for businesses and organisations across the UK.
Founded in 2006 the company has ambitious growth targets of achieving a turnover of £10 million in the next five years and staff learning and development is central to them achieving that goal.
The senior management team have all undergone Sandler Leadership by Organisational Excellence training. This training helped set the company’s direction of travel, focussing on driving the business forward, company strategy, goals and the structure needed to meet their objectives.
Ian said: “To grow the business, it’s important that we take our staff with us on the journey so that they understand what we want to achieve and how we are going to achieve it. The Sandler training really helped us set the tone for our direction of travel by laying down the foundations to provide a great culture throughout the whole of the business.
“It’s not just about the senior leadership team though – we want our entire team to play their part in helping us achieve not only our own company goals but to align them with their career and personal goals too. That’s why we place such an emphasis on learning and development, from the top down.”
All staff, not just senior leaders, are offered ongoing training and professional development as part of the company’s annual review process. This not only ensures that each individual’s goals are documented but that training and development can be put in place to help them achieve those goals, support their career development and help the business as a whole too.
This focus on learning and development has ensured there are clear career progression pathways throughout the organisation so that staff can be promoted from within, rather than relying heavily on external recruitment.
A number of company staff drive their own vehicles for work purposes (known as grey fleet). Staff also drive company vans for work and Fifteen Group wanted to ensure they were doing all they could to ensure their drivers were as safe on the roads as they could be.
As a result they brought in road safety specialist Adrian Hide who introduced specific training measures including online driver training, a director and manager workshop on effective driver risk management and the introduction of an online induction course for new starters.
Ian added: “We believe strongly at Fifteen Group that we are only as strong and as successful as our team. Ultimately their success will be Fifteen Group’s success and investing in their learning and development in a positive environment is absolutely imperative, not only to help them be the best they can be but to help them achieve their career aspirations, which will ultimately help us become bigger and more successful in the future.”
Fifteen Group has entered the Skills For the Future category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Women's Natural Health

Skills For The Future entrant

Registered midwife Amanda Redford set up a business combining her medical knowledge with her lifelong interest in complementary therapies.
Amanda, from Bagnall, was Senior Research Midwife at the UHNM where her work included clinical trials using acupuncture.
Her business, Women’s Natural Health, sees Amanda supporting women with their fertility and pregnancy journeys using her knowledge of reproductive health and complementary therapies.
She works with couples who need help with their fertility, helps women to go into natural labour and avoid induced birth, encourages breech babies to turn and much more.
Amanda estimates that she has helped thousands of women over the years by using techniques that may not be available in a more traditional setting.
She has a clinical space at Brampton House in Newcastle-under-Lyme and has ambitions to put together a team of practitioners offering the likes of massage, hypnotherapy and nutritional advice under one roof.
Amanda, who left her role at the hospital in 2019, is also looking to develop online packages and to deliver community programmes.
“My mum used to blend essential oils and she introduced me to aromatherapy,” said Amanda. “I used to do complementary therapy alongside my day job and set up a therapy space about 10 years ago while I still worked full time. Whenever I could I would find a way to bring in complementary therapies.
“I taught midwives for around 10 years and I was always passionate about promoting natural birth. I never really thought that it would be a business or that I would be running a business but when it happened I never looked back.”
She added: “I’m pretty niche in the work that I do. There is nobody else locally who offers what I do and I have people travelling a distance to see me, mostly because of word of mouth.”
Amanda is studying for the Peter Coates MSc in Entrepreneurship, which she says is helping her to develop her ideas for the business.
She has entered the Alumni Business Person of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards and has entered Women’s Natural Health into the Small Business of the Year and Skills for the Future categories.

Mitchell Arts Centre

Skills For The Future entrant

Nearly 70 years after it opened as a tribute to the designer of the Spitfire, The Mitchell Arts Centre continues to be a hub of the community and to support and entertain thousands of people.
The Stoke-on-Trent city centre venue is home to a theatre auditorium, dance studio and café plus various spaces it offers for corporate hire.
Education and community outreach play a key role. MAC Education was launched in September 2022 and in its first year supported 528 families with accessible arts and committed 1,270 hours to education.
In 2023 the centre partnered with the Hubb Foundation to provide 240 free workshops across the year for children receiving free school meals.
Other key programmes have included the cultural project You Are Here and the creation of a Youth Board.
In 2024 MAC Education is doubling its public workshops in half term and working hard behind the scenes applying for funding to provide more opportunities for the community.
Mitchell Arts Centre Education Officer Caroline Sherratt said: “Our strengths blossom from the legacy of the venue. The venue was paid for by public money in 1957 and the community spirit has continued to shine through ever since.
“The venue is used by local amateur dramatics groups, community groups and children’s theatre groups and within these connections we have made strong relationships which helps the venue stand tall in Stoke-on-Trent.”
The Mitchell Arts Centre has entered the Small Business of the Year, Team of the Year, Growth, Skills For the Future and Business in the Community categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

TMT First

Skills For The Future entrant

A Staffordshire entrepreneur’s dream to help futureproof the life of digital devices has become a reality – less than a year after he mounted a campaign to get a national apprenticeship scheme set up.
TMT First founder and chair Adam Whitehouse’s call attracted national press last year when he made the plea for an official device repair apprenticeship to be introduced.
In 2022 there were almost 72 million mobile phone connections in use in the UK, but as Adam highlighted at the time there was no industry training standard to repair them.
In contrast there were 33 million cars on the road with well-established nationally recognised mechanics apprenticeships.
Since Adam’s call Newcastle-under-Lyme based TMT First has been at the forefront of getting the qualification launched to help fill the severe skills gap in the tech industry, as well as upskilling and futureproofing the next generation of digital repair technicians.
Now the Digital Device Repair Technician Apprenticeship has been signed off by the Government and after launching at TMT First’s Holditch Lane headquarters it’s being rolled out nationally over the coming months.
In partnership with the Institute for Apprenticeships Tech Education it follows months of work with a range of partners to get the standards created for the 21-month qualification. TMT First, which employs 140 staff, is working in partnership with Newcastle-under Lyme College to deliver the apprenticeship.
Adam said: “There are millions of mobile phones in the UK alone. It shouldn’t be a case of if your mobile breaks, you instantly think about getting a new one. There need to be the resources in place to make repairs a go to option - it’s much better for a customer’s pocket and is certainly much better for the environment.
“Up until now there just haven’t been enough skilled technicians available to repair all the devices that need fixing and as the number of devices grows across the UK, the skills shortage will only increase further.
“The National Digital Device Repair Technician Apprenticeship is an absolute gamechanger as it is going to help fill that gap. Thanks to a huge amount of hard work by a team of industry specialists, including TMT, I am delighted to see the apprenticeship formally launched.
“This apprenticeship isn’t just about repairing devices; it's about nurturing a workforce capable of making significant contributions to environmental sustainability.
“By extending the life of digital devices, we can actively reduce the carbon footprint associated with the production and disposal of electronics, which is vital as we commit to the UK’s ambitious target of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”
A pre-curser on a local level to the apprenticeship, TMT launched its own in-house Training Academy four years ago to upskill the next generation of mobile device technicians. The 20th cohort of the academy started in February and so far the academy has created 79 roles in the process.
Now, four years on, the Digital Device Repair Technician Apprenticeship will replace it.
It’s hoped in its first year at least 40 apprentices will join the scheme, with the aim to increase that year on year.
TMT First has entered the Skills For The Future category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Jonathan Cornes Associates

Skills For The Future entrant

Jonathan Cornes Associates isn’t just upskilling its own staff it’s helping other young professionals in its industry and actively supporting training initiatives to promote careers in building surveying.
The Newcastle-under-Lyme based business has nine staff, four of whom are working towards gaining chartered membership in the field of building surveying or advancing to the next level of chartered membership.
The business is committed to every employee having at least one hour of formal industry training each month, which currently averages at three hours per month.
Business Manager Trudy Traynor said: “As industries evolve and face new challenges, it is crucial for companies to have a workforce that is not only skilled but also adaptable and forward-thinking. By investing in training and upskilling initiatives for all employees, Jonathan Cornes Associates is taking proactive steps to future-proof their business and ensure its long-term success.
She added: “The genuine passion and dedication of Jonathan Cornes Associates Ltd towards the training, development, and upskilling of their workforce and other Staffordshire professionals in the built environment is truly commendable. Their commitment not only empowers individual employees but also fuels the overall success and expansion of the company.”
Alongside industry qualifications, recent training courses have included management, leadership and performance with Staffordshire University plus courses with Staffordshire Chambers, Intercog and Environmental Essentials Ltd.
The company recently supported the creation of a Staffordshire branch of the RICS Matrics early career community for young construction industry professionals.
It is actively involved with training initiatives in Staffordshire and has participated in various events at educational institutions including with Staffordshire University, Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent College and Newcastle College.
Jonathan Cornes Associates has entered the Skills For The Future category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Evelyn Howe and Stride Revive

Skills For The Future entrant

The seemingly simple act of going outdoors and walking has been transformative for former corporate sales specialist Evelyn Howe and now she has turned it into a business.
Daily walks in the forest after taking a career break to be a full-time mum helped her rethink her future work plans. The idea for what would become Stride Revive started to form.
The 45-year-old now combines working as a life coach with building her walking business and studying for the Peter Coates MSc in Entrepreneurship.
Stride Revive sets out to educate people about the healing benefits walking can have physically, emotionally and mentally.
Evelyn’s business has a number of strands including a WhatsApp group, organised walks and collaborations with local authorities and organisations such as the Staffordshire Moorlands Walking Festival.
“When I started talking to people about my plans and putting out polls I found that 40% of people don’t walk during the day when they’re at work and that many people don’t move away from their computer every few hours,” said Evelyn, from Stafford.
“It quickly became apparent that people don’t walk enough and that people feel lonely when they’re homeworking.
“So I started working on ways to gamify walking to make it fun to walk and started organising group walks including mindfulness walks.
“It’s all about connecting with nature, connecting with one another and looking after your own wellbeing.”
Evelyn has an undergraduate degree in Design Management from Staffordshire University and has worked as a client specialist for the likes of Vodafone and BT.
She added: “I’m trying to re-educate people and give them the tools to access the healing benefits of walking.”
Evelyn has entered the Alumni Business Person of the Year, Skills For the Future and Business in the Community categories of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.

Young Enterprise

Skills For The Future entrant

A national charity that helps young people develop their business, financial and entrepreneurial skills has entered the Skills For The Future category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards.
Young Enterprise works directly with young people, teachers, parents, businesses and influencers to offer financial and enterprise education.
It works with around 57% of secondary schools in the 30% most deprived areas of England and Wales and has a strong presence in Staffordshire.
Teresa Fisher, Young Enterprise Educational Partnership Manager for Staffordshire, said: “We believe that the potential of the UK’s young people is unlimited and an academic education on its own is not enough.
“As a national charity very active in Staffordshire we motivate young people to succeed in the changing world of work by equipping them with the work skills, knowledge and confidence they need.”
Young Enterprise’s financial education is a planned programme of study that equips young people with the knowledge, skills and confidence to manage their money. Its enterprise education provides young people with the skills, competencies and mindset to make the most of everyday opportunities and challenges.
Teresa added: “Through our hands-on employability, enterprise and financial education programmes, resources and teacher training we aim to reduce youth unemployment, help young people realise their potential beyond education and empower a generation to learn, to work and to live.”

JPF First Aid

Skills For The Future entrant

John Fogarty started his own business after being made redundant during the pandemic – and three and a half years later it’s going from strength to strength.
Lichfield-based JPF First Aid works with clients including well-known restaurant brands and multi-academy trusts to deliver life-saving training for adults and children of all ages.
John is the founder and lead trainer but he is also starting to work with associates, mentor other trainers and would like to bring in apprentices.
He said: “I’m immensely proud of what has been achieved with the business over the past few years. There have been a number of challenges that we’ve all had to face and that I’ve faced personally, so moving the business forward has been a huge achievement.
“I just want to support people. I’ve got passion and pride and I think that shows in my customer service and delivery.”
John’s background is as a first aid trainer and an assessor for a training company. Before that he was cabin crew for various airlines.
JPF First Aid works with both primary and secondary school pupils, where John uses ECHO the First Aid Frog to help children learn what to do in first aid situations.
He offers enrichment sessions to help prepare sixth form students for real-life situations including skills in readiness for the workplace.
John also runs monthly mental health drop-in sessions at a library to support members of the community. He supports numerous charities and donated a first aid kit to an under-13s football team.
JPF has won a number of awards including being commended for Start-up Business of the Year by Lichfield District Council.
John Fogarty has entered the Entrepreneur of the Year category of the Staffordshire University Business Awards and JPF First Aid has been entered in the Skills for the Future category.

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