1st for EPA Named Best Small Business

1st for EPA has been named Best Small Business at the prestigious Tees Businesswomen Awards 2022.

Winner of Best New Business at the 2021 Businesswomen Awards, we have gone from strength to strength. 1st for EPA has supported over 600 apprentices through their EPA, with a hugely impressive 98% first-time pass rate. Our client list includes numerous huge employers, including JD Sports, BT, Channel 4, AO.com, Trainline and Poundland.

1st for EPA is entirely women-owned and women-led. As an Ofqual-recognised EPAO, we won the judges’ approval for our hands-on approach to EPA, working closely with training providers to support apprentices through EPA. We’ve grown significantly and have ambitious growth plans. Our modern, innovative approach to assessment includes guidance for apprentices, employers and training providers, as well as a focus on transparency in the EPA process.

Since our creation in 2019, 1st for EPA has quickly grown to become a major player in the EPA market.

Managing Director, Helen Shinner, said: “We’ve been so successful in our approach and to have this recognition feels fantastic. Every team member genuinely loves what they do, and I believe this is a big factor in how far we’ve come. We receive great praise from apprentices and providers on the quality of our guidance and how our assessors put apprentices at ease.

We started as an EPAO for marketing, PR and digital standards. Growing to assess HR, business admin and, more recently, data apprenticeships has really put us on the map as an EPAO of choice.”


The Tees Businesswomen Awards are a celebration of women-led and women-inspired businesses that were born in Teesside. Now in their fifth year, the awards have become a supporter of the North East Power of Women campaign. Past award winners include Wander Films and Sir Robert McAlpine.

1st for EPA assesses apprenticeship standards including Digital Marketer, Marketing, PR & Communications, Data, HR and Senior People Professional, Business Administrator, Junior Content Producer, Content Creator, and Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Practitioner.

To find out more, see Standards we assess. Info for employers can be found here.

MD Helen receiving the award    The women leading 1st for EPA


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