BUSINESSES have been given a pat on the back for investing time and commitment in helping young people to prepare for the world of work.

Launched this year, The Skillstree Awards is an initiative of local education charity, Basingstoke Consortium, which aims to publically thank some of the organisations and individuals who support its programmes each year.

The evening was compered by BBC South Today presenter Allen Sinclair, who was joined by Skillstree sponsors to present the awards.

Hosting The Skillstree Awards at the borough council offices, in London Road, was Basingstoke and Deane Mayor Councillor Martin Biermann.

Cllr Biermann said: “In an increasingly competitive world, it is so important that young people gain access to the world of work and positive role models as early as possible. Skillstree is one example of a local project that does just that.”

Basingstoke Consortium chief executive officer Sue Riley said: “The awards were created to showcase the incredible talent of the thousands of individuals who volunteer or work with us every year to help young people learn more about the world of work. They also recognise some of the many inspiring young people who are involved in our projects.”

This year Skillstree will have helped 800 local young people by delivering a variety of practical workshops, challenges, employer visits, work experience and mentoring.

This has all been made possible with the support of Skillstree sponsors, which include AXA Wealth, Visa, Vitacress Salads, Hampshire County Council, Basingstoke ITEC, Wates and The University of Winchester. Wote Street Employment Bureau also added its support by sponsoring one of the awards.

The award categories and winners were:

Student of the Year - Chris Dingley, Everest Community Academy
Business Ambassador of the Year - Rachel Parker, AXA Wealth
Lifetime Achievement, Eddie Grimble - Queen Mary's College
Business involved in Work Experience - Harwoods
Business Supporting Enterprise and Work-Related Learning - Laleham Healthcare.