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Steel giant calls for Apprenticeship Awards Cymru entries

A company that has been developing its own “talent pipeline” of apprentices for half a century is encouraging Welsh employers, learners and learning providers to enter this year’s Apprenticeship Awards Cymru before the May 4 deadline.

Tata Steel won the Macro Employer of the Year Award at the prestigious annual awards ceremony last year, prompting Huw Mathias, the company’s training delivery manager in Port Talbot, to emphasise the importance of apprenticeships.

Over the course of 50 years, the company has trained around 5,000 apprentices, who are at the heart of the business. “They are our future and without them we don’t have a sustainable steel industry,” said Huw.

“Apprenticeships ensure that the company has a ready-made pipeline of talent into the organisation. Tata Steel was very proud to win the award, which has raised the profile of our apprenticeship programme with senior leaders in the business, many of whom are former apprentices themselves.

“I advise businesses and learners to embrace the awards. Even if we hadn’t won the award, it would have been a rewarding and worthwhile experience to stand back and reflect on the work we have done. You sometimes forget about your own business achievements.”

Since winning the award, Tata Steel has welcomed visits from other Welsh companies to share their apprenticeships experience. The company currently has 301 apprentices, having recruited 122 in the past year. Next year, he envisages having 339 apprentices, comprising 16-19-year-olds and mature employees.

Tata Steel developed its Apprenticeship Programme to meet the challenges of recruiting skilled employees in the increasingly competitive global workplace. Faced with an ageing workforce, the company needs to ensure it is training and developing skilled employees capable of carrying the mantle in the years to come.

Jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), the coveted Apprenticeship Awards Cymru are sponsored by Pearson PLC and supported by media partner, Media Wales. The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

The awards are designed to showcase and celebrate the outstanding achievements of learners, employers, tutors and assessors who have excelled in contributing to the development of the Welsh Government’s Traineeships and Apprenticeship programmes.

Application forms are available to download at gov.wales/apprenticeshipawardscymru and the closing date is noon May 4.

From the applications, finalists in 11 categories will be shortlisted for awards, which will be presented at a high-profile ceremony at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport on November 9, 2018.

In the employability category, there are awards for Traineeship Learner of the Year for Engagement and Level 1. There are also awards for the best Foundation Apprentice, Apprentice and Higher Apprentice of the Year.

The business category includes awards for small (1 to 49), medium (50 to 249), large (250 to 4,999) and macro (5,000 plus) employer of the year, while work-based learning practitioners will compete for assessor and tutor of the year.

Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan said:

“Apprenticeships are a great way for individuals to gain valuable skills and experience while earning a wage and for employers to ensure they have the skills they require in their workforce.

“The Apprenticeship Awards Cymru showcase the success of the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeships and Traineeships Programmes through the achievements of our star apprentices, employers, learning providers and trainees.

“As Tata Steel has discovered, recruiting apprentices helps to develop a pipeline of talent to future proof a business. Increasing higher level skills and developing skills pathways that benefit the whole of Wales have never been more important.”