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College launches mentorship programme to empower next generation of female leaders

Mentors on Coleg y Cymoedd's female mentorship scheme

A South Wales college has unveiled a new female mentorship programme aimed at supporting and empowering the next generation of young women to fulfil their education and career potential.

Coleg y Cymoedd, which has four campuses in Nantgarw, Ystrad Mynach, Aberdare and Rhondda, has officially rolled out its mentoring scheme, following a successful two-year pilot.

Originally trialled on a smaller scale, the scheme proved to be a success with learners and has now transitioned into a permanent programme at the college.

Designed to coach female, trans and non-binary identifying learners to help them reach their personal and professional goals, the programme sees each learner matched with a mentor based on their career interests or desired skills.

The scheme currently boasts 21 mentors who are each highly successful and respected women within their professional fields. Spanning a range of sectors from law, marketing and medicine to psychology, construction and finance, mentors on the scheme include a tribunal judge, chartered architect, executive producer at the BBC, and the director of BAFTA Cymru.

As part of the programme, learners have monthly one-on-one meetings with their mentors – either face to face or virtually – where they discuss their career aspirations and personal development, putting together an action plan to achieve these. For those unsure of what they’d like to do after college, the mentors help them to identify what career or subject they might be interested in pursuing.

As well as sharing their own personal experiences and learnings, the mentors support learners to gain career related experience and skills, introducing them to key industry contacts and helping them secure relevant work placements.

They are also on hand to assist with drafting CVs and university applications, preparing for interviews, improving confidence and improving their presentation skills.

Megan Howells, 20, is one Coleg y Cymoedd learner to have benefited from the scheme. Megan, who is now in her third year of a law degree at Oxford University, was partnered with mentor Sian Davies, an employment judge, during her last year of college.

Thanks to the scheme and Judge Davies’ support, Megan gained work experience in a number of legal firms and was able to sit in on an employment tribunal hearing, giving her an insight into various areas of law.

Megan said: “I am really thankful for the mentoring scheme as it provided me with an invaluable opportunity to develop my skills and interest in law. Before starting the scheme, I felt lost and unsure about what I wanted to do post-university but working with Judge Davies provided me with a wealth of experience in a wide range of areas of law.

“The scheme helped improve my confidence, knowledge, and legal skills, better preparing me for university and my future career. It gave me the resources to further my academic performance, and the practical experience to aid me with decisions in the future.”

Judge Sian Davies, who is a Diversity and Community Relations Judge, was instrumental in setting up the networking scheme at the college after contacting its Principal, Karen Phillips, with the idea. The two worked together to establish the programme.

She said: “I am passionate about inspiring women to aim high and achieve their full potential, which is why I wanted to be involved in a scheme like this. I wanted to help young women who don’t have a professional role model, providing them with an opportunity to network with professional women and get work experience, which can be difficult to come by if you don’t know the right people.

“Megan is an exceptional individual who is going to be a fantastic lawyer. Megan originally didn’t have connections to access relevant work experience, so I assisted her in getting experience in a variety of roles within law.

“The scheme is a fantastic initiative that focuses on empowering young women to succeed by providing them with a supportive and nurturing environment to flourish and enhance their skills. I am proud to play a role in helping young women to develop both personally and professionally.”