Many businesses are well aware of the benefits of apprenticeships - improved skills levels, service, morale and productivity, to name but a few.  

But employing apprentices can also bring about a great sense of pride among businesses. And there is no better example of this than the Brathay Apprentice Challenge - the official search for the apprentice team of the year, supported by the National Apprenticeship Service. 

This year’s event saw eight finalists raise over £41,000 for nine charities. In the past four years the Challenge has raised over £136,000 for charities across the country. 

Apprentices from Dale Power Solutions and from Sellafield Ltd have been jointly named the country’s apprentice teams of the year following the gruelling seven-month Challenge against the country’s leading apprentice employers and training providers. 

I congratulate all the winners and all of the competitors. Together they have shown the genuine difference an apprenticeship can make in giving young people the chance to pursue a dream job as well as helping a business grow and increase its productivity. 

It is important that we work together to encourage even more businesses to offer apprenticeships so that we can reach our target of 3 million more apprenticeships in the next 5 years, which will ensure Britain's long term success, building a stronger economy and fairer society for this generation and the next. 

If you want to find out more about how apprenticeships can benefit your business, or if you are thinking of recruiting an apprentice then call our Freephone advice line on 08000 150 600 for impartial advice. 

Or, if you want to talk to other similar-minded employers about their personal apprenticeship experiences, then visit Apprenticemakers  – a peer-to-peer networking community where employers can connect with one another, share the knowledge they’ve gained as an apprentice employer and learn from those that have been through the process.