Durham City Freemen are aiming to establish an annual Apprentice of the Year Award to recognise excellence in craft skills and are seeking to pilot the scheme with New College Durham and Durham University.

Durham City Freemen has a long and proud history in representing the Craftsmen, Artisans and Businesses of the City of Durham and whose membership is still, in part, based on craftsmen working and plying their trades, as well as training apprentices, within the City boundaries.

More recently the Freemen have sponsored apprentices working at the Cathedral and Durham University and through our Charitable Trust now offer support to apprentices who may be suffering hardship which could impact on them not completing an apprenticeship.

Following the pilot programme, we aim to widen the scheme to include companies within the city boundaries employing apprentices and seek to expand the awards to include new modern apprenticeships to include engineers, lab technicians, electricians and other selected apprenticeships. Seeking partnerships and engaging with employers and trainers will be crucial to the success of the scheme.

Project Aims

The aim of the project is to engage, support and celebrate apprentice success. 

In year one we aim to:

  • Establish a working group in partnership with New College Durham and other employers to develop the pilot project.
  • Create a directory of employers/ training organisations
  • Invite engagement with trade organisations.
  • Create a budget to support the project.
  • Establish the award selection criteria.
  • Hold an award ceremony.
  • Seek media publicity.
  • Review the pilot project.

In year two we aim to:

  • Increase the number of employers/apprentices engaged in the project.
  • Establish an employer forum ensuring standards are met.
  • Seek sponsorship.

In year three we aim to:

  • Establish a modern apprentice craft guild.

Progress to date

  • Working group established.
  • Establishing links with Durham University.
  • Creating a directory of employers/training organisations.
  • Project budget established.
  • Apprentice support fund established.
  • Award application form and selection criteria complete.