28 Aug, 2018

In February, we mooted the idea of applying for the Princess Royal Training Awards, run in association with the City & Guilds Group.

It was something we’d done before without success and we’d been left wondering if the Awards were tailored to recognise the achievement of large corporates rather than SMEs like ourselves.

As we like flying the flag for SMEs just as much as we don’t like to be defeated, we committed to having another go. We did everything possible to make our entry compelling. We registered for the free ‘how to apply’ webinar. We surveyed and interviewed our staff. We then honed our entry to highlight the successes within our team and the impact they had had on our growth until, finally, we made our submission with baited breath.

Hearing in May that two Assessors wanted to visit us was the first indication that we’d done well. They wanted to meet with our management team but also – crucially – they wanted to speak with the colleagues whose stories we’d told.

Our workforce is relatively young so to have Assessors show an interest in their opinions and experiences was a powerful albeit nerve-wracking experience. They went into their meeting nervous and came out enthused having talked about their peer-to-peer training, apprenticeships and having the autonomy to spend their individual training budget on courses that meet their unique needs.
The assessment visit was also quite nerve-wracking for management as the Assessors had plenty of questions for us too. As well as touching on what had worked for the business, we also discussed what we’d like to do better or differently. Training programmes are constantly evolving to meet the ever-changing needs of staff and customers so it was refreshing to openly talk about our challenges and hear about best practice from other companies. We left the meeting with a raft of ideas to consider.

Recently, we had the pleasure of hearing that we’d been recognised for an Award. The Awards webpage shows our logo flanked by big names such as HM Revenue & Customs, John Lewis, Legal & General and Halfords. The corporates’ achievements are immense: Openreach created ‘Open Street’, a street of houses and underground networks to enable more real-life scenario training’, River Island built a training scheme which has benefitted over 1,000 managers and Greene King put over 1,000 people through apprenticeships.

Yet, there are plenty of other companies on there like ourselves. We may not have ‘household names’ and multi-million pound training budgets but our achievements have been deemed just as worthy of recognition. Of 48 recipients, nine organisations (including ourselves) have less than 50 employees and a further nine have between 50 and 249 employees. That means almost 40% of Awards recipients are SMEs. This is a magnificent achievement for the country’s smaller businesses and one which should inspire us all.

Many thanks to City & Guilds and the Princess Royal Awards team for giving SMEs this wonderful opportunity to showcase their achievements.

To see this year’s award recipients, visit

To pre-register for next year’s awards, visit


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