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2024 Local Government Apprentice of the Year announced

Sara Jenner-Akehurst from Cambridgeshire County Council has been named as the 2024 Local Government Apprentice of the Year.

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Sara Jenner-Akehurst from Cambridgeshire County Council has been named as the 2024 Local Government Apprentice of the Year.

Sara, who is a Business Support Apprentice and a Level 3 Standard Business Administrator, won the award by competing in a virtual day of challenges to encourage participants to showcase their skills, expertise and initiative.

Now in its fourth year, this one-day national event was designed and delivered in partnership by the Local Government Association, South West Councils and the East of England Local Government Association.

119 Level 2 and 3 local government apprentices took part from across England and Wales, covering 9 of the 10 regions across England and Wales

Building on the success of previous events, all those taking part were either current apprentices or qualified within the last 12 months. This year’s event was themed around Health and Wellbeing with each activity designed to draw on that theme while helping to develop successful workplace behaviours, linked to a range of apprenticeship standards. Each participant receives an individual report with their scores for each activity and an Employer Checklist with suggested questions for line managers to use with their apprentices.

As well as Sara Jenner-Akehurst’s individual success, awards were also presented to the joint runners up, Daisy Evans (Powys County Council) and Naomi Osborne (Colchester City Council) and the joint winning teams who were judged by a panel of communications professionals from across local government on a creative communications document. A prize for the on-the-day social media competition was also presented to Davinia Seville of West Midlands Combined Authority.

Sam Callear, Deputy Director of Policy and New Concepts at IfATE (the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education), chaired the event.  IfATE, an arm’s length body of the Department for Education, works with employers to shape skills training in England for the future of the workforce. He was joined by the following guest speakers in a Q&A with attendees on the importance of apprenticeships in local government: 

  • Joanna Killian, Chief Executive, Local Government Association (LGA)
  • Jennifer Coupland, Chief Executive Officer, Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (Ifate)
  • Karen Kelly, Apprenticeship Ambassador Network

Apprentices also heard from Laura De Campos Duhdamell, Interim Mental Health Investment Fund Manager | Health Integration Projects and Partnership Supporter, Surrey County Council (Winner of Local Government Apprentice of the Year 2023) during the event.

The LGA works to support councils across the country to deliver successful apprenticeship schemes to help people into training and employment, as part of its sector support offer. 

Its Apprenticeship Support Programme helps councils to share good practices, provides advice and guidance, and supports councils to problem-solve and review council apprenticeship programmes through ‘Apprenticeships MOT’ health checks. 

Apprenticeship opportunities in local government have expanded significantly in the last few years, with councils in England creating tens of thousands of apprenticeships in over 200 different fields. 

Sara Jenner-Akehurst, Business Support Apprentice and the 2024 Local Government Apprentice of the Year, said:

“I was really nervous when I went into the Apprenticeship of the Year Event but I was assisted throughout by organisers who made it really accessible for my disabilities.

“Throughout the day and event I received encouragement, as well as from my Mentor Georgia and my Line Manager Liz. To think that I had given it my all and really connected with people I had never met was a big achievement, let alone be crowned the Local Government Apprentice of the Year 2024. 

“I really believe that my confidence has grown by attending this event. It has allowed me to see that I am capable and can be confident despite my disabilities and anxieties. Thank you again to everyone involved in the organisation of the event, as well as to my fellow colleagues for supporting me through this.”

Cllr Shaun Davies, Chair of the LGA said:

"Congratulations to everyone who took part in this year’s Local Government Apprentice of the Year and to our winner Sara Jenner-Akehurst.

“This award is a great opportunity for the LGA to express our thanks to and recognise the achievements of our fantastic apprentices across the country who, as our winner Sara demonstrates, approach their work with dedication and skill. Apprentices are so important to the work that local government does, helping councils to deliver the vital services that our residents need amidst a difficult financial background and increasing demand.”

Stephen Moir, Chief Executive, Cambridgeshire County Council, said:

“At Cambridgeshire County Council, we are proud of the work of our apprentices and their personal commitment to developing new skills and knowledge. I couldn’t be more delighted for Sara that she has been recognised as the Local Government Apprentice of the Year. I hope Sara is as proud of her achievements as we are of her. On behalf of all your colleagues at Cambridgeshire County Council Sara, our most wholehearted congratulations on this wonderful achievement!”

Ian Morgan, Director, South West Councils said:

“We were thrilled to be able to provide apprentices from England, Wales and Northern Ireland with this unique development opportunity. We have been truly impressed and inspired by the calibre, innovation and energy on display throughout the day as the apprentices worked in teams to tackle a series of challenges. It is heartening to see so much talent within our local authorities – future leaders in action! We look forward to building on the success and delivering an even bigger and better fifth Apprentice of the Year in 2025, working once again as a partnership with the LGA and East of England LGA.’

The full list of winners can be found below:


Sara Jenner-Akehurst, Business Support Apprentice, Cambridgeshire County Council

Joint Runners Up

Daisy Evans, Property Design Consultancy Apprentice, Powys County Council

Naomi Osborne, Environmental Health Officer, Colchester City Council

Joint Winning Teams

Team 11, consisting of:

Louis Wright, HGV Apprentice Level 3, Braintree District Council
Brody Olson, Apprentice – Governance, West Suffolk Council
Zoe Thoms, Contact Centre Apprentice, Tendring District council
Ellie Lewis, Apprentice Assistant, HR Advisor, Stockton-on-Tees Council
Jordan Smith, Apprentice Sign Shop Technician, Bolton Council
Arnas Usevas Apprentice – Admin, Surrey County Council
Kerris Cheeseman, Business Administrative Apprentice, Bridgend County Borough Council
Brooke Johnson, Youth Voice Worker, Calderdale MBC

Team 14, consisting of:

Sara Jenner-Akehurst, Business Support Apprentice, Cambridgeshire County Council
Daisy Evans, Property Design Consultancy Apprentice, Powys County Council
Viktoriia Moskalenko, Software Development Technician Apprentice, Norwich City Council
Joshua Taylor, Digital marketer, Level: 3, Braintree District Council
Iqram Shah, Business Support Apprentice Corporate Services, Camden Council
Samuel Dixon, Plasterer Apprentice, Northumberland County Council
Hannah Belshaw, Business Administration Apprentice, Wigan Council
Alisha Carass, Business Admin Apprentice, Devon County Council

Social Media Competition

Davinia Seville, Directorate Administrator, West Midlands Combined Authority

In addition to their awards, the overall winner receives £500 in Love to Shop vouchers, each runner up receives £250 in Love to Shop Vouchers, and each member of the winning team receives a £30 Love to Shop Voucher. The Winner of the Social Media Competition receives a £20 Love to Shop Voucher.