A CHILDCARE provider with nurseries across Dorset has been listed among the top apprenticeship employers.

Tops Day Nurseries, which has 12 nurseries in the region, was listed 12th out of 100 top apprenticeship employers.

The prestigious DfE award aims to recognises the best in apprenticeship programs in the ‘large employer category’ – covering companies with 250 employees or more.

Cheryl Hadland, founder and chairwoman at Tops, said: "Our 12th position among the UK's Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers reflects our commitment to nurturing talent and fostering inclusivity at Tops Day Nurseries.

“This achievement showcases our dedication to providing exceptional opportunities for career progression and personal development within the childcare sector.”

Over the past year, Tops initiated apprenticeships at all levels, from level 2 to level 7, with a total of 118 new apprentices commencing their apprenticeship journeys.

Among these were 115 female apprentices, spanning across various age groups from 16 to 25 plus.

Furthermore, 14 apprentices from ethnic minorities and 15 with learning difficulties joined an apprenticeship programme, emphasising Tops' commitment to creating an inclusive workforce.

Between March 2022 and March 2023, 84 apprentices successfully completed their apprenticeships with Tops.

Tops says its high success rate is a testament to its “dedication to providing apprentices with the necessary tools and support to thrive in their roles”.

Kellie Butler, nursery manager at Tops Christchurch and Level 5 early years lead practitioner apprentice, said: “I chose an apprenticeship because it is a great way to progress your career and Tops is a great company to work for, their sustainable ethos is what really drew me to Tops, it’s great to be able to pass on our knowledge and eco ethos to the next generation through education and play.”

Emma Reed, nursery assistant and Level 3 early years apprentice at Tops Lymington, said: “I chose to do an apprenticeship with Tops as I am a hands-on learner and enjoy learning whilst in the setting gaining firsthand experience.

"My manager Mags is so supportive and the faces of the children when they achieve something is so rewarding. I would recommend working at Tops to anybody."