Quality Skills Alliance Annual Awards celebrate apprenticeship achievement
Thirteen of the finest apprentices working in Wales have had their hard work and dedication celebrated at a special awards ceremony in the spectacular surroundings of the National Museum, Cardiff.
Employers who have gone that extra mile in their commitment to work based learning were also recognised at the ceremony.
The lavish event was the first-ever Annual Awards ceremony held by the Quality Skills Alliance – a consortium of work-based learning providers made up of 24 partners and subcontractors. The awards celebrate excellence and achievement, and the winners were chosen by a panel comprising the QSA’s chair and representatives from the Confederation of British Industry and the Welsh Government’s Department for Education and Skills.
The award for Apprentice of the Year went to Luke Elsmore. Luke is employed by Industrial Automation and Control and with his partner Alex Scott from the same company he won gold in the WorldSkills 2014 Industrial Control competition.
“I’m really pleased to win this award – I was not expecting it at all,” Luke said. “I try to put a lot of effort into my role so it’s lovely to be recognised for that. I would like to thank everyone at IAC for the opportunities they have given me.”
Luke’s employers, IAC, were also rewarded for the commitment it has shown in working with QSA partner NDGTA over the last eight years as a medium sized employer. Managing Director Peter Lewis said: “Our entire company’s strategic plan centres around our apprenticeship scheme and has done for more than 25 years. Over 75% of our workforce came to us through our own scheme.”
Zobha Khan, a Level 2 Barbering Apprentice with Brothers Constantinou was awarded for her enthusiasm and willingness to learn. She said: “I feel privileged to win this award and it was a real surprise – I’ve never won anything before. My apprenticeship has been a great experience. Everyone has been so helpful and it’s a great journey – I would recommend apprenticeships to everybody.”
Bosch Auto Repair Centre apprentice Shane Bolas won the Special Recognition Award. Shane had come to Bosch via a jobseekers scheme and was so impressive that the Centre decided to take him on as an apprentice, since when he has gone from strength to strength.
“I’m happy to win this award,” Shane said. “It’s nice to be noticed! I was sent to Bosch by the Job Centre and then they took me on and the college has been really good in teaching me. I would definitely recommend an apprenticeship as a career route.”
Another award winner was Michelle Sutton, who has taken a Business and Administration apprenticeship at MOD St Athan. Michelle has used her apprenticeship to progress within her job from being a cleaner in the accommodation department to a managerial role.
“I’m thrilled to win,” Michelle said. “It was a real shock – when I first heard I didn’t believe it. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed doing an apprenticeship especially as it was all course work and there were no exams!” BBC Cymru Wales was also awarded for its apprenticeship work. The broadcaster offers a wide range of industry experience and specialist training on flagship programmes while also supporting the local community.
BBC Talent Manager Tom Morrey said: “It’s great to be recognised for all the hard work we’ve put in. It’s also a great boost for the scheme and for promoting apprenticeships in general. What we have found in our industry is that people find it difficult to get to that first step on the ladder and apprenticeships offer them training to help them do just that.”
The Gate Arts Centre won Employer Award for small businesses. It took on four Live Events Apprentices last year and has just appointed a further two and the Gate’s Director, TJ Wheeler, works closely with Cardiff and Vale College Apprenticeships to ensure that the work based learners have a valuable and useful experience.
“I’m very pleased that our hard work and effort that our apprentices put in has been recognised,” TJ said. “We would recommend apprenticeship as it gives a wide range of experience that people would not get otherwise.”
Phil Taylor of Phil Taylor Hair & Beauty won the Role Model Award. Phil regularly places learners with QSA consortium member WBTA and delivers a Salon Services Programme to schools in his area. His flamboyant character and accounts of how he has grown his business are an inspiration to pupils.
“I’m overwhelmed – this was so unexpected,” Phil said of his award. “It’s amazing and it’s nice to have all of your hard work noticed. It’s most important that we have apprenticeships as it can really help people get started in their chosen career.”
Cardiff and Vale College is one of the key partners in the QSA. Principal and Chief Executive Mike James said: “It has been a pleasure to celebrate the achievements of each and every winner at the QSA Annual Awards. Apprenticeships are an important vocational route to a long and fruitful career. This Awards Evening demonstrates precisely the positive impact work based learning can have and the opportunities it can create. It also reminds me what a privilege it is to be part of this unique consortium.”
The awards had been generously supported by sponsorship from the Confederation of British Industry, and JTL. QSA apprenticeships are funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.