Winners of the Asian Apprenticeship Awards have many good stories to tell. Among the success stories in the room at the 2017 awards, one winner has good reason to describe her experience as life changing.

Naila Bibi won the Financial, Legal and Professional Services category and was crowned overall Asian Apprentice of the Year. Since winning the award her career has really taken off, and many new opportunities have presented themselves.

Naila joined Aspire Housing, based in Stoke on Trent, as a Business Administration Apprentice in September 2016. She had just left school and was convinced that an Apprenticeship was the right route for her.

She explained: “I’m the sort of person who learns by doing a job, rather than sitting in a classroom. I studied Business Studies in Year 9 and I really liked the idea of working in an office environment. The Human Resources part of the course was the most enjoyable, and I was keen to work in that field.”

Her job involves supporting the Human Resource team and making arrangements for interviews. She enjoys meeting new people every day and being the face of the business to interview candidates. She said: “You can often get an accurate impression of someone when they come for an interview, if they are going to be good to work with, and I am often encouraged to give my feedback to colleagues as part of the selection process.

She is studying for an NVQ level 2 with training provider PM Training, who put her forward for the Asian Apprenticeship Awards in 2017.

Naila said “I think it was brilliant that they put me forward. It was an amazing night, with great food and entertainment. Even before I won it was the best night ever, but to win the overall Apprentice of the Year was fantastic.”

Since winning the award Naila has had some amazing opportunities. “In the first few days I did interviews with the BBC Asian Network, and BBC Radio Stoke, and I featured in 24Housing magazine, which a lot of my colleagues read!

“Since then, I’ve been out to local schools talking to year 10 and 11 pupils about interview skills and about apprenticeships. PM Training also asked me to be their ambassador for Staffordshire and I spoke at a Key Supplier Event at Staffordshire Showground recently, in front of 200 people about how my apprenticeship is changing my life!”

Naila is aware that within the British Asian community many families are keen for their young people to go to university and don’t consider apprenticeships as an option, but she is quick to point out that her family was really open minded and supportive of her choice.

“I love the concept that I’m earning while I’m learning. And many people don’t realise that you can also now take the apprenticeship route to a degree, the advantage being that you have all the work experience to back up your qualification.”

Her ambition is to work on her NVQ level 3 this autumn and go on to study for a HR qualification. When asked if training providers should enter their British Asian apprentices for the 2018 Awards she was very clear “This has been a brilliant and life changing experience for me, and they should definitely go for it!”

Beth Clarke is HR Business Partner at Aspire Housing, and is Naila’s line manager. She commented: “Winning the award has been a huge honour for Naila and for our team and PM Training! Naila absolutely deserved the recognition for her hard work and commitment to her apprenticeship and there is no doubt as to the positive impact the experience has had on her.

“Since winning the award, we have seen Naila continue to grow in confidence and embrace the fantastic opportunities the awards have opened up for her. We are very proud of how far Naila has come, she truly is a model apprentice and is an asset to our team and organisation – we are lucky to have her!”

Nominations are now open for British Asian Apprentices, their Employers and Learning Providers in the following categories:

  • Finance, Legal and Professional Services
  • Retail, Hospitality and Tourism
  • Charity, Voluntary and Public Services
  • Construction
  • Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Health, Medical and Social Care
  • Transport and Logistics
  • Creative and Digital
  • Small/Medium Enterprise of the year
  • Large Business of the year
  • Learning Provider of the year

Nominations end on 31 July 2018 and shortlists will be announced on 3rd October 2018. For details and entry forms see https://asianapprenticeshipawards.co.uk/

The gala dinner and awards presentation takes place on 29 November 2018 at Edgbaston Stadium Birmingham.