An awards ceremony held yesterday in Glow, Bluewater, has celebrated a number of individuals who serve as inspiration to people living in Kent seeking a career in retail. The awards, which were co-presented by Gareth Johnson, MP for Dartford, also recognised businesses at Bluewater that have made an exceptional difference to others through their work with The Learning Shop, Bluewater’s on-site recruitment and training facility.
The Learning Shop is a pioneering initiative created during the construction of Bluewater. A partnership between Lend Lease, North West Kent College and JobCentre Plus, since Bluewater opened in March 1999, it has brokered more than 32,000 jobs, trained in excess of 17,000 people, and awarded over 15,000 qualifications. Around 40% of the jobs have been filled by people living in DA postcodes, with 85% in total from North Kent.
Organised by The Learning Shop and Bluewater, the event highlighted the direct and indirect benefits of the employment and training provided by The Learning Shop, by awarding organisations and people who exemplify its innovative partnership approach. A total of eight awards were made:
- Young Achiever – Shannon Knight, aged 18 and from Dartford
- Adult Achiever – Ricky Ball, aged 24 and from Swanley
- Special Recognition Award – won by Lynn Stoneman of JobCentre Plus and Ben Gay of North West Kent College
- Outstanding Achievement – Rickie Strevens, aged 34 and Swanscombe
- Employer of the Year – won by Giraffe
- Collaboration Award – won by Mothercare and Early Learning Centre
- Community Award – won by Forever 21
- Partnership Award – won by Ask Italian
Commenting on the awards, Robert Goodman, Bluewater’s General Manager, said on behalf of The Learning Shop’s partners: “The awards are recognition of the companies that have made an exceptional difference to others through The Learning Shop, and of individuals that serve as inspiration to everyone seeking to have a career in retail.
“The Learning Shop makes a difference to tens of thousands of people and key to its success is the partnership that exists between Bluewater, North West Kent College, JobCentre Plus, our retailers and the wider community. This is a very proud day for everyone involved.”
Gareth Johnson MP added: “Securing employment, beginning a career, learning new skills and developing existing experience lead to increased prospects, prosperity and quality of life, not just for the individuals directly involved, but for their families and the communities within which they live.
“The importance of The Learning Shop to North Kent, therefore, cannot be over-stated and I congratulate everyone who has won an award. Your commitment, hard work and success are an example to us all. I would also like to thank the partners involved. Your efforts deliver results that make a real difference to the community, which is why The Learning Shop is used as an example by the government on a national level.”
The awards were presented by Ann Komzolik, North West Kent College, Dave Ashdown, JobCentre Plus, Robert Goodman, General Manager of Bluewater, and Gareth Johnson, Member of Parliament for Dartford. The ceremony was held in Glow’s Gallery Beam, and was attended by 50 people representing a variety of Bluewater’s retailers, local community groups, and organisations such as Kent Police.