MANY Yorkshire apprentices dream of earning a place at the top table.
Now, with help from the Institute of Directors (IoD), the brightest and best have a chance to take their first steps towards a senior management post.
Last night, a select group of Yorkshire apprentices became the first in Britain to be awarded student IoD membership. It’s part of a strategy devised by Natalie Sykes, the IoD’s newly appointed regional director, to support a new generation of budding entrepreneurs from a wide range of backgrounds.
Individual prize winners at the Yorkshire and Humber National Apprenticeship Awards now have the chance to enjoy the benefits of IoD student membership as part of their prize,
Ms Sykes said: “I spent three years as chair of the Young Directors Forum, so I’ve been fortunate to work with some fantastic entrepreneurial stars from our region.
“When the IoD’s student membership was being launched nationally, I asked the membership committee, which I sat on, how we could make this available to our apprentices.
“Apprentices have a great deal to offer industry, and in return, we can nurture talent within our communities.”
The apprentice winners at last night’s awards, which were held at the Carriageworks in Leeds, included Evie Molloy, from Hemingway Bailey Chartered Management Accountants in Beverley, Natasha Pitts from Dale Power Solutions in Scarborough, and Bethany Wilson from Batley, who has taken an apprenticeship in civil engineering at Leeds College of Building.
Ms Sykes said the IoD wanted to give apprenticeships a new image. The winners from last night’s awards will be given support throughout their apprenticeship, and they may go on to become a chartered director.
“There are inaccurate perceptions that you can only join the IoD if you are a director,’’ said Ms Sykes. “If you’re a leader, or even if you’re an aspiring leader, there’s no reason why you cannot apply to the IoD via one of our platforms, such as student membership. I am proud to say that Yorkshire has secured the UK pilot for this scheme.
“We’ve gone through our own strategic review, which has been led by our director general, Simon Walker. We will be stronger than ever before, and even more connected to our members.”
Harrogate-based Ms Sykes is an entrepreneur with a range of business interests across the property, hospitality, health and well-being sectors. She is an ambassador for the IoD student membership and the Higher Level apprenticeship scheme.
She’s keen to ensure more women and people from a broad range of cultural backgrounds get to the top.
She added: “We’re looking to run an international women in business conference which will alternate each year between the North West and Yorkshire. I’m also looking to establish on our regional committee a diversity officer. We have such a varied cultural mix here in Yorkshire. We need to ensure that we’re working closely with everyone that makes our region so unique.
“There are a number of excellent initiatives available to our region’s businesses to engage apprentices, and I strongly support this as a pathway for strategic growth especially for our SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises).”