Company wins regional apprenticeship award a fourth time and now heads for national finals

INVOTRA, a Woking-based company providing innovative intranet and extranet services, has scooped another regional award, winning the South East SME Employer of the Year category at the National Apprenticeship Awards.

The company will now go through to the national final on 27 November, which is England’s biggest apprenticeship awards ceremony, designed to recognise the achievements of the country’s best apprentices and employers.

Steve Latus, from the Education and Skills Funding Agency,  far left, and Michael Grant president of BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT , present the award to Alison Galvin, the Invotra co-founder and financial director and Lisa Parker, Invotra executive assistant

The Chertsey Road company has won the regional finals of the competition every year since 2016 and was recognised as “highly commended” for the past two years running in the national awards.

Invotra is an enterprise software company specialising in providing intranet and portal services worldwide, including to central government civil servants and 22 local authorities.

Alison Galvin, Invotra co-founder and chief financial officer, said: “As a service company, people are at the very heart of everything we do and critical to exceeding our customers’ expectations. Because of this, we invest a huge amount of time and effort into developing people.

“Winning the South East Regional Finalist SME Employer of the Year means so much to us as it validates all the hard work and commitment we put into mentoring and developing our apprentices. Just because you don’t have a qualification from a university does not mean you can’t get to a top position. Apprenticeships create a level playing field.”

Invotra decided to invest in apprenticeships in order to be more attractive to raw talent; to provide specific technology and product skills and to invest in the economy.

Over the past four years, Invotra has had a 100% retention rate of qualified apprentices, with eight on higher or degree apprenticeships and 16 on permanent placements.

The SME Employer of the Year category is sponsored by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, which said that the sector employs more than 16 million people and that the importance of digital skills is just as critical for SMEs as for any large organisation.

Annette Allmark, head of apprenticeships at BCS said: “Apprentices can learn so much from being employed in a SME that will not only help them achieve the apprenticeship they are working towards but provide a wealth of experience as they progress through their careers. 

“Automation and digital transformation are becoming part and parcel of all organisations, whatever their size, and we have seen some outstanding examples of how SMEs are engaging with apprenticeships in these areas.”

This year marks the 16th National Apprenticeship Awards and consists of nine regional ceremonies, with a national final taking place in London. The awards showcase the diverse and growing range of sectors engaged with apprenticeships, while celebrating the achievements of outstanding apprentices, apprentice employers and individuals to inspire others to follow in their footsteps and champion apprenticeships across England.

Education Secretary Gavin Williams said: “Huge congratulations to all of the regional winners. Apprenticeships change lives, improve businesses and support local communities, so it’s great to see such a diverse range of employers and apprentices being recognised for their great work. I wish them all the best of luck for the final award ceremony in November.”

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