National award for West Midlands apprentice at Public Health England

National award for West Midlands apprentice at Public Health England


A 21-year-old apprentice from the Black Country, who works in Birmingham, has scooped a top national award as part of celebrations to mark National Apprenticeship Week 2019.

As part of Public Health England’s (PHE) second annual Apprenticeship Celebration Event, the very first Apprentice Awards were held in London. PHE’s apprentices and fellow colleagues from across the country came together to celebrate those who had completed their apprenticeships and congratulate award winners. With PHE’s Chief People Officer, Deb McKenzie presenting awards to winners and medals for completed apprenticeships.

Awards were in three categories:

Rising Star of the Year – which celebrates someone who has progressed rapidly since starting their apprenticeship at PHE, awarded to Jasmine Oloya, an apprentice with the national communications team based in London

Mature Learner of the Year – for the apprentice who has invested in learning further on in their career, while still committing to their full-time role, awarded to Chenchal Dhami, a National Infection Service Lab Technician, based in London

Young Apprentice of the Year – awarded to an apprentice who has recently joined the organisation, but has made fantastic progress so far on their apprenticeship journey and adapted well to their first role at PHE

The Young Apprentice of the Year award was won by Omar Francis (21) from Oldbury, who works as a Public Health Support Officer in the PHE West Midlands Centre, based in Birmingham. Omar joined PHE West Midlands in May 2018, for an apprenticeship based in the Health and Wellbeing Team, which concludes in August 2019.

Dr Lola Abudu, Director for Health and Wellbeing at PHE West Midlands, said: “Omar is a confident, hardworking colleague who is able to manage a busy workload, has a flair for organisation, an eye for detail, patience and tenacity. Always polite, Omar has the ability to anticipate complications and explain difficulties. He has been able to employ some great negotiation skills to find a compromise and agree the best options for a situation. He is able to adapt to the unexpected while remaining calm and professional. An all-round excellent team member – we are all incredibly proud Omar has won the award for Young Apprentice of the Year, it is well deserved.”

Born in Oldbury, Omar gained a Diploma in Music Production and Performance from Matthew Boulton College in Birmingham in 2016. A keen musician, Omar and some school friends had started a band for fun in 2011, but while at college he put together another band – playing drums, guitar and singing backing vocals – and has regularly played gigs around the West Midlands. While enjoying using his creative talents, Omar wanted a career path that would help people in some way, so applied for a 15-month apprenticeship at Public Health England in February 2018.

Award winner, Omar Francis said: “I’ve been very fortunate and had a loving family who supported me to pursue my goals, but I know there are many people who lead very different lives, and working in the public sector is a great way to try to help people. Since joining PHE, I’ve been impressed by the work ethic of colleagues and the breadth of topics covered by public health; the experience has really inspired me to make a difference. I have particularly enjoyed working with Health and Wellbeing colleagues to support people with addiction problems and in recovery, and work done with the prison population and former offenders. I am looking forward to working to help people experiencing homelessness and I’m also passionate about mental health.

“I am absolutely delighted and extremely surprised to have won the Public Health England Young Apprentice of the Year Award. I only found out I had been nominated a few days before I was told I had won, so I’m still in shock. It is a great honour and a testament to the professional and personal support I’ve received from my fabulous colleagues. After my apprenticeship ends, I really hope to stay with PHE West Midlands as a permanent member of the team.”

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