LOCAL employer and independent German car specialist Gerry Doverman has been awarded the Employer of the Year at this year's Herefordshire & Ludlow College Apprenticeship Awards.

Over the last 12 months, 655 apprentices started their apprenticeship programme with the college, and at any one there are approximately 1,300 apprentices on programme, placed with over 400 employers, covering 39 industries.

Whilst the college's provision has widened in recent years there is still very much a focus on matching the right apprentice for the job, regardless of the size of business.

Gerry Doverman currently employs two apprentices and has employed three in previous years. Having started the business on his own twenty years ago, he now employs six technicians.

"I'm very proud to have won this award; it was a very pleasant surprise," commented Gerry. "If you don't invest in teaching the younger generation then there won't be anything to pass on for the future. A mechanic's job has changed hugely in recent years, the technology on high-end cars is fast-paced now and young mechanics need to use intelligent problem-solving skills as well as practical ones. English and maths skills are really important too; our apprentices use them every day."

Assistant principal, Jonathan Gill added, "We work closely with employers to ensure that their skills needs are met by securing and placing the right apprentice for their business. We then provide the skills and knowledge that each apprentice needs to become a productive and valued member of the workforce, and of society. We are proud of our apprentices and their achievements and we are also proud of the strong partnerships we have forged with hundreds of local employers to ensure that apprenticeships are such a local success story."