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Wales’ work-based learning stars sparkle at awards ceremony

Star learners, employers and learning providers from across Wales sparkled as the winners of this year’s coveted Apprenticeship Awards Cymru were revealed on Friday (November 9).

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Inspirational individual success stories and a dynamic approach to training and skills development by employers and learning providers were celebrated as the prestigious awards ceremony brought together 30 shortlisted finalists at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport.

The awards showcase the outstanding achievements of learners, employers and work-based learning practitioners who have excelled in contributing to the development of the Welsh Government’s Traineeships and Apprenticeship programmes.

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


The award for Macro Employer of the Year went to Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, which employs 85 apprentices. The council works with partners including Bridgend College and Coleg Y Cymoedd to deliver more than 20 Apprenticeships in diverse careers ranging from engineering to social care.


Magellan Aerospace UK Ltd of Wrexham flew away with the award for Large Employer of the Year.Working closely with Coleg Cambria, the company has invested heavily in Apprenticeships and developed a dynamic workforce capable of remaining at the forefront of a competitive global industry. A workforce of 400 includes 74 apprentices.


The Medium Employer of the Year award went to catering butchery and meat processing company Celtica Foods of Cross Hands, Llanelli, which has established a training academy in partnership with Cambrian Training Company to grow its own skilled workers. The company’s workforce of 75 includes 17 apprentices.


The Small Employer of the Year was growing IT company Pisys.net of Swansea, which is using Apprenticeships as an integral part of its recruitment programme. Providing affordable IT support and services to businesses across the UK, the company has recruited 18 apprentices over the past decade and works with Swansea ITeC.


ACT Limited, which is based in Cardiff, completed a double as employees Carly Murray and Kirsty Keane collected the Work-based Learning Assessor and Tutor of the Year respectively.


Internal Quality Assurance assessor Carly, 35, loves delivering work-based qualifications that have an impact on her learners and has twice achieved a 100% success rate since 2013. Kirsty, 26, has supported 91 learners through a Level 1 Traineeship in Care with a 100% progression rate and plans unique learner experiences for them.


The awards for apprentices went to individuals from across Wales. Higher Apprentice of the Year was Daren Chesworth, 30 a support engineer at Transcontinental AC UK Ltd in Wrexham. He is living proof that Apprenticeships can change lives, as he retrained with Coleg Cambria after being made redundant as a plumber and aims to become a Chartered Engineer.


Apprentice of the Year was 19-year-old Sally Hughes from Port Talbot who is building a career at Tata Steel. A learner with Gower College Swansea, she hopes to inspire other young women to follow a science career pathway by embracing all opportunities available to her.


Foundation Apprentice of the Year was 22-year-old chef Thomas Martin, from Holm House Hotel, Penarth, whose passion for cooking has taken him to work in some of London’s top fine dining restaurants. A learner with Cambrian Training Company, he has a burning ambition to open a restaurant in Cardiff to champion the best Welsh ingredients.


Two awards for young learners who have benefited from the Welsh Government’s Traineeship programmes completed the list of winners.

The award for Traineeship Learner of the Year (Engagement) went to James Carter, 18, from Newport, who is getting his life back on track after hitting rock bottom when he found himself homeless for seven weeks, was involved in substance misuse and spent a day in jail. The turning point for James came when Careers Wales introduced him to training programmes through Itec Skills and Employment.


Traineeships Learner of the Year (Level 1) award winner Stella Vasiliou, 19, from Barry, has demonstrated that future career prospects are not necessarily defined by school examination success.  With help from ACT Limited, she changed career direction and is now employed by The Vale of Glamorgan Council as an apprentice carpenter.


Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan congratulated the finalists and winners for setting the gold standard for Apprenticeships and Traineeships.

“The finalists include exceptional individuals who have excelled in their workplace and training providers and employers that have gone the extra mile to support the apprentices they are working with,” she said. “Each of them should be applauded for their commitment to the Apprenticeships and TraineeshipsProgrammes in Wales.

“The Welsh Government regards Apprenticeships as a priority area and, with support from the European Social Fund, has committed to creating a minimum of 100,000 high quality all-age Apprenticeships over this Assembly term.

“We have a clear vision for addressing the needs of Welsh businesses, developing skills pathways and increasing higher level skills that benefit the whole of Wales. If the Welsh economy is to continue to grow, then we must work together to equip Wales with a world class workforce.”

Sarah John, NTfW chair, said the awards were the highlight of the year for everyone connected with the delivery of the successful Apprenticeships and Traineeships Programmes.

“We are justly proud that Wales has a highly successful Apprenticeships Programme, one which we think is the best in the UK,” she added. “Apprenticeships remain the gold standard in vocational training because they create a more responsive and motivated workforce and deliver the key skills and experience businesses need now and in the future.”