Catch up With the Birmingham Ladder Awards || 2020

West Midlands Ambulance Service worker crowned our Apprentice of the Year

An “inspiring” key worker who has juggled life as a father of three young children with completing an apprenticeship – all during a global pandemic – has been named our Birmingham Apprentice of the Year.

Mohammed Islam from West Midlands Ambulance Service won the Health, Education and Care category at tonight’s Birmingham Apprenticeship Awards 2020 before being picked from the five individual winners to take home the top honour.

The annual awards, which were held online due to the coronavirus restrictions and hosted by Heart FM’s Ed James, are run by BirminghamLive in partnership with the Ladder for Greater Birmingham campaign.

They celebrated achievement across 11 categories for individuals, employers and training providers.

Mohammed, 34, spent many years working in security at a hospital but felt unfulfilled so joined the West Midlands patient transport service in late 2018 and the following year began studying for a diploma in healthcare support.

Undeterred by the coronavirus lockdown, he kept up his apprenticeship studies online while continuing to work long shifts throughout the pandemic and completed his diploma in September alongside further qualifications in maths and English.

For the past nine months, he has been working on the high dependency unit based in north Birmingham which transports patients who may need oxygen or more specific care during transfer journeys.

He told BirminghamLive: “I had always wanted a challenge and the ambulance service seemed like the right fit for me so I applied and have never looked back.

“I like helping people and this job allows me to do that to meet their various needs. The job brings with it a lot of satisfaction compared to what I was doing previously and offers a daily challenge.

“It makes me feel good when I’ve helped somebody and they thank you for it. You feel appreciated so you don’t mind going the extra mile for them.

“I didn’t get that working in security and towards the end it had become something that I really didn’t enjoy. I had to endure a lot of hassle and abuse and wasn’t appreciated”

His award citation praised him for always striving to improve and working tirelessly, adding that he had been an inspiration and role model for other apprentices, demonstrating that you can achieve your goals if you stayed focused.

Mohammed says he has enjoyed a tremendous amount of support from his colleagues at West Midlands Ambulance Service and is now looking at training to become a paramedic.

He said: “They have given me a stepping stone towards reaching my goals. I have a plan and in the next five years I would like to qualify fully as a paramedic.

“A lot of people have helped me so maybe I can do the same in the future and repay the favour.”

He added: “I am really honoured to win these two awards, I am more shocked than anything as there were a lot of good people among the winners who were all deserving. It took me off my feet.”

It is the second year in a row that our Apprentice of the Year has come from West Midlands Ambulance Service after Kevin Naylor, then 51, took home the award in 2019 for his work with high-dependency patients.

Financial services firm PwC was also a big winner on the night, claiming three awards including the Education Engagement category for the second year running.

Kevin Davis, chairman of the Ladder for Greater Birmingham campaign who also led our judging panel, said: “May I extend heartfelt congratulations to all our finalists and winners and, of course, our overall Apprentice of the Year Mohammed for his work with West Midlands Ambulance Service.

“The judges were bowled over by the mature way he has juggled his job and apprenticeship training with being the father of three young children to complete his healthcare diploma and other qualifications.

“It’s been a very tough year for employers, training providers and apprentices, some of whom had to endure stalls in their education and training as the regulations seemed to change on a weekly basis.

“But the quality of their work shone through the award applications and made judging once again such a tough task. Hopefully, 2021 will bring greater economic prosperity for all and I am sure our apprentices will go from strength to strength.”

The full list of 2020 winners and sponsors

Outstanding Apprentice of the Year – Construction and Property, sponsored by Midlands High Growth

Qasim Khattak, Rider Levett Bucknall

Outstanding Apprentice of the Year – Engineering and Manufacturing, sponsored by Birmingham Metropolitan College

Vicky Curtis, voestalpine

Outstanding Apprentice of the Year – Health, Education and Care, sponsored by Wales England Care

Mohammed Islam, West Midlands Ambulance Service

Outstanding Apprentice of the Year – Professional Services, sponsored by Performance Through People

Isobel Sherrington, EY

Outstanding Apprentice of the Year – Tech, Digital and Creative Industries, sponsored by voestalpine

Lauren Alie, PwC

Apprentice of the Year – chosen from the five category winners above, sponsored by Birmingham and Solihull Training Provider Network

Mohammed Islam, West Midlands Ambulance Service

Small Employer of the Year (1-50 staff), sponsored by Make UK

Tinkerbell’s Cards & Gifts

Medium Employer of the Year (51-249 staff), sponsored by BCTG


Large Employer of the Year (250+ staff), sponsored by The Development Manager


Training Provider of the Year, sponsored by The Ladder Foundation

Swift ACI

Education Engagement Award, sponsored by Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership


The winners of our 2020 awards worked with the following training providers on their apprenticeship programmes – Birmingham City University, Coventry University, Creative Alliance, EY, JTL Training, National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure, PTP Training, The Apprenticeship Centre, The Opportunity Group and University of Birmingham.

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