A Ukrainian refugee has claimed the Apprentice of the Year award, sponsored by Apprenticeships Norfolk, at the Norfolk Education Awards 2023

Yuliia Vasylenko joined Chadwicks, a wealth management company based at the UEA, as a part-time marketing assistant in May 2022 when she was displaced from war-torn Ukraine along with her mother and eight-year-old son.

She very quickly became a valued team member, showing a strong work ethic, commitment to the company and has an organised and diligent approach to her tasks despite never having working in an office environment or a marketing role before.

She has shown a willingness to adapt and think creatively with regard to how Chadwicks is marketed both internally and externally.

Yuliia is keen to expand her knowledge and qualifications and is currently completing a Level 4 PR and communications assistant apprenticeship.

The judges recognised that the level of upheaval Yuliia has experienced with leaving her home and settling into a new country alongside completing a challenging apprenticeship is “outstanding”.

An apprenticeship can be challenging in itself, juggling learning and employment plus maths and English, but Yuliia came into the programme with English as her second language in addition to these challenges and has faced them head on. She was described in the nomination as a “vibrant and vital team member”.

The judges said that “her strong work ethic and commitment was clear from her nomination, alongside the significant impact she had had on her wider community with the work she has done over and above her apprenticeship programme”.

They concluded by commending Yuliia’s “vital” role in the team at Chadwicks and said that she “has clearly grown both professionally and personally within the apprenticeship”.

Yuliia had this to say on winning Apprentice of the Year: “For me, it was very unexpected. Really, I didn’t think that I would win it, but I am happy that I have this award.

“It’s really nice to have this achievement and to prove that I can do something and can achieve this award,” she added.

For more information on the Norfolk Education Awards, please visit the website.

To find out more about all of this year's winners, please click here.

The finalists

Amelia Good – Moorelec Electrical Contractors Limited

As a female entering the construction industry, Amelia has faced the challenge head on and has worked hard to prove herself in all aspects of the job, recently passing her electrical installation Level 3 AM2S exams with a distinction.

Recognising Amelia’s “excellent customer feedback across her work” the judges said that she “has shown real focus in the role” despite working in a sector “that few females chose to take on”.

They also noted how “she works hard and has gained confidence in the role”.

Joshua Vivian – Kelling Hospital for Norfolk Community Health and Care Trust

Joshua is working towards a Level 2 healthcare support worker qualification and has overcome his own personal challenges as he has Asperger’s, ADHD and cerebral palsy. However, Joshua uses this to his advantage.

The judges praised Joshua for going “above and beyond the expectations of his apprenticeship, acting as a peer and mentor for others”. He has shown commitment to the sector and “has used the traits of his Aspergers as an advantage, making use of them within his job role”.

About the sponsor

Apprenticeships Norfolk is a free and impartial service run by Norfolk County Council. 

It raises awareness of the benefits that apprenticeships can bring and the opportunities available locally, supporting individuals of all ages and businesses to access them.

A dedicated team offers practical support with any aspect of setting up an apprenticeship, from guidance on how to pick suitable apprenticeship training, to choosing a training provider and also helping businesses access financial support. 

A Pathways to Work team also provides specific guidance to young people aged 16-18 (and for those up to the age of 25 in disadvantaged groups) through the Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge (ASK) programme.