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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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Beth has a big idea which is the best in Britain

ADMINISTRATION apprentice Beth McKenzie, thought nothing would come of her entry into a national apprentice competition a few weeks ago.

CEBETHTONY
worthy winner: Award-winning apprentice Beth McKenzie with MP Tony Cunningham. ‘Her proposal for a specialist website is fantastic,’ he said

But the GEN II apprentice, who works at Lillyhall’s Energus facility, was this month named the winner of the Apprenticeship Challenge by Dragon’s Den star Peter Jones.

The 18-year-old picked up the top prize for a business idea she submitted via Twitter. She beat off competition from a staggering 300,000 applicants.

The Whitehaven teenager was invited to London with two other finalists to meet Mr Jones, David Kogan and John Hayes, Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning.

Beth presented her business plan and proposal to the panel which was to create a website for apprentices and employers to use for networking, sharing best practice, and providing careers advice. It was chosen as the overall winner and will now be developed by an expert team, of which Beth will play a part.

She said: “It was nerve-wracking presenting my idea to the panel but I noticed that I got only positive feedback from the judges.

“I’m looking forward to seeing it turned into a live website.”

Beth said that all through school her love of IT-based subjects would one day lead her to train through an apprenticeship.

“I gained A-level qualifications then saw an advert for what was described as one of the best apprenticeships on the market,” she said. “It was here with GEN II at Energus and I started in September 2009. I am now 18 months into my training and I feel like I have achieved so much already. I have been able to get involved in design software, events and reception work.

“Being involved in so much has done wonders for my confidence and it’s been great that the team at GEN II have made sure I have experienced so much in such a short space of time.

“My favourite part has definitely been the events side – it’s so hands-on and I have helped out at the CN Group education and business awards. Dealing with a number of people from various departments has meant I have picked up a whole host of skills from them.

“I can see why apprenticeships attract a lot of people – university isn’t the be all and end all. If you want experience, apprenticeships are the way forward.”

Workington MP Tony Cunningham commended Beth on her achievement and said: “When someone from this area wins a regional competition it is a great achievement. But for Beth to win a national competition such as this is huge.

“Beth is the best in the country and I’m not surprised her idea won her the top prize. Her proposal for a specialist website is fantastic – after all, social networking is the future.

“The best comes from the best and she works at what has been described as the finest training facility in the world. That says a lot about West Cumbria.

“With the rising costs of universities, apprenticeships are becoming more of an option for young people. We need young people to go down both educational routes. There is no glass ceiling – apprenticeships are just the start for many people.”

Mike Smith of GEN II added: “Everyone at Energus and GEN II is very proud of what Beth has achieved. Her success really underlines the value that apprentices can bring to an employer. After all, who better to design a website for apprentices and employers than someone who is working their way through an apprenticeship?”

Sue Price, regional director for the National Apprenticeship Service in the North West said: “Beth is a great example of an entrepreneurial apprentice and her achievement demonstrates how apprenticeships provide real, measurable business benefits for employers, they bring productive, enthusiastic and loyal people into your organisation.”

Beth is studying for her apprenticeship with North Lancs Training Group, and her apprenticeship is sponsored by the NDA.

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