Apprentices from businesses across Hillingdon put on hats and gowns to celebrate their successes at the first ever Hillingdon Apprenticeship Graduation Ceremony.

The graduates, many of whom were accompanied by their employer, were presented with certificates by The Worshipful the Mayor of Hillingdon Councillor George Cooper. Boris Johnson, The Mayor of London and Uxbridge & South Ruislip MP, recorded a personal video message congratulating the graduates which was broadcast during the ceremony.

The official graduation ceremony, presented by Uxbridge College and held at Brunel University London, was the first of its kind in Hillingdon borough and recognised the achievements of its Apprentices, who learn on the job and complete further training and assessment either at College or in their own time.

Their Level 3 qualifications – the equivalent to A levels – were awarded in areas including Engineering, Hairdressing, Business Administration, Health and Social Care, and Sport & Leisure.

The event honoured 61 graduates who had completed their qualifications in the last year through Heathrow Academy, London Borough of Hillingdon, The JGA Group, Total Support and Uxbridge College.

Employers and partners were also involved in the event including Hillingdon Council, Hillingdon Chamber of Commerce and the National Apprenticeship Service.

Laraine Smith OBE, Principal of Uxbridge College, said: “Apprenticeships are now being recognised as a real alternative to full time education, and you can study all the way to degree level while still being employed. You might be surprised to know that there are apprenticeships in careers as diverse as Dental Nursing and Accounting, as well as the more traditional Engineering and Customer Service - so whatever the job, there’s probably an apprenticeship to go with it. Uxbridge College is delighted to have presented this event, particularly as apprenticeships are a key part of our vocational and academic training, with around 1,000 apprentices in training at any one time.”

Professor Julia Buckingham, Vice Chancellor and President of Brunel University London, also welcomed the graduates and their guests.

Two special certificates were presented to Apprenticeship Ambassadors, Natalie Culhane from West London Motor Group and Lakjit Chand from Ultra Electronics Sonar Systems. Both progressed from a Level 3 Apprenticeship to Higher Education, supported by their employers, and have been recognised with West London Business Apprenticeship Awards.

Uxbridge College’s application for funding was kindly supported by Hillingdon Council, with Brunel University London and Heathrow sponsoring the event.

The event, funded by the National Apprenticeship Service, was the precursor to 50th anniversary celebrations for Uxbridge College and Hillingdon Council.