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Swansea careers adviser wins prestigious national award

Careers Wales team members attending the UKCDAs

A careers adviser from Swansea has won a UK Career Development Award (UKCDA).

Annmarie Wills, a Working Wales careers adviser at Careers Wales, has been awarded Public Sector Career Development Professional of the Year for her innovative approach and her dedication to supporting prisoners with their next steps.

The prestigious award was presented to Annmarie by the Career Development Institute at the ceremony in Derby on Tuesday 18 June 2024.
As a careers adviser based in HMP Swansea, Annmarie supports prisoners to explore meaningful career paths in preparation for their release.

Annmarie provides one to one support for career planning and also supports prisoners to access a range of vocational funding, including ReAct+. She has provided language support for prisoners with language barriers and used a range of creative methods, including virtual reality tools to provide an insight into jobs and career pathways they might not have previously considered.

As a result of Annmarie’s careers guidance and support, a total of 183 individuals had entered education, employment or training at the time of Annmarie’s award nomination, and now contribute to the local economy in Swansea and across Wales.

As well as providing careers coaching, Annmarie ensures prisoners have access to agencies that can support them to overcome barriers including housing, substance misuse and mental health.

Annmarie said: “Winning the award was a genuine surprise. I am so pleased and extremely grateful to have my work and the impact of it recognised.

“I would like to thank the wider Working Wales team for their support. The encouragement and support I’ve had has given me confidence to be creative and implement new ideas in order to help the prisoners with their career plans.

“I am also grateful to the staff at HMP Swansea for their commitment in allowing me to carry out this work in order to shape positive futures for the prisoners I support.”

Jeremy Miles, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Energy and Welsh Language, said: “Congratulations to Annmarie for winning this prestigious award. Her innovative and dedicated approach to supporting prisoners in their career journeys is inspiring. Annmarie’s work, and that too of Careers Wales, has made a significant impact on the lives of many, helping them find meaningful paths and re-engage with the world of work.
“It’s a proud moment for all involved to see her exceptional efforts recognised at a national level.”

Nikki Lawrence, chief executive at Careers Wales said: “I’m delighted to see Annmarie win Public Sector Career Development Professional of the Year.

“Annmarie has demonstrated creativity and innovation to provide holistic careers support to the offenders she works with, going the extra mile to help them reach their potential.

“The support that Annmarie has provided, has made a hugely positive impact on the rehabilitation of prisoners in HMP Swansea, and it’s fantastic for her to receive recognition of this.”

Careers Wales was named a finalist in two additional categories at this year’s UKCDAs:

  • Use of Technology in Career Development Award
  • Innovative Employer Engagement Activity Award