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Celebrating apprenticeship achievement at the Quality Skills Alliance Annual Awards

Celebrating apprenticeship achievement at the Quality Skills Alliance Annual Awards

by Kate Ellaway -
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Seventeen of the finest apprentices working in Wales have had their hard work and dedication celebrated at a special awards ceremony.

Employers who have gone that extra mile in their commitment to work based learning were also recognised at the ceremony, held in the spectacular surroundings of Cardiff and Vale College’s new City Centre Campus on Dumballs Road.

The apprentices’ commitment was celebrated at the third Annual Awards ceremony held by the Quality Skills Alliance – a consortium of work-based learning providers made up of 22 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 Victoria Hill. Victoria is employed by CPI Care and completed her apprenticeship framework in nine months instead of the usual 16 and by the end of the programme had been promoted to senior management. She is now working towards a Higher Apprenticeship in Health and Social Care.

“I was gobsmacked to win this award – I cannot believe it,” Victoria, who also won the Health and Care Award, said. “It really makes me proud of what I have achieved. I’m just really proud and very grateful to everyone who has supported me and made it possible.”

Gareth Poole, who works for Tata Steel, won the Electrotechnical Award. Meticulous and committed, Gareth never achieved anything less than distinction grades and has been given additional responsibilities that would normally only be carried out by engineers with far more years of experience.

“I’m really happy to have won this award,” Gareth said. “I put a lot of effort and work into it, both at work and at college, and it’s really nice to be recognised for it.”

The Insurance Services Award went to Louise Rees. Louise is employed by the AA, who have been impressed by her optimism, commitment and hard work – not letting a change of role in the middle of her apprenticeship and pregnancy get in the way.

“Winning an award is fantastic,” Louise said. “It’s wonderful and I’m having a really lovely evening – the atmosphere here is brilliant.”

SPTS Technologies Engineering Maintenance apprentice Corey Lewis won the Role Model Award for his work as an ambassador for his employer. Corey actively inspires other people to pursue an apprenticeship in engineering and regular represents SPTS at careers fairs and school events.

“It feels amazing to have won this award,” Corey said. “A lot of hard work goes into an apprenticeship in both learning the work skills and the work itself so it’s really nice to be recognised. Hopefully I can point that out recognition to other young engineers and other people who work in the engineering sector as well. I’m really thankful to my family and my employers for this award – it’s been a really good evening and hope everyone else has enjoyed it as much as I have.”

Employers were also celebrated for their commitment to apprentices. Real SFX, the first special effects company in Wales with a fully functioning workshop, developed its own apprenticeship programme. As a result, all staff recruited through the apprenticeship have remained with the company and gone on to gain further qualifications.

The Salvation Army and Lifehouse/Ty Gobaith were recognised for their commitment to working with training organisation Focus On continuously for the last nine years. Both centre managers undertook Higher Management apprenticeships and regularly put forward employees for apprenticeships. In nine years, 15 managers have achieved qualifications in this way.

CMB Engineering was awarded for its close work with BEST to deliver Level 2 and 3 apprenticeships for many years. Its train and retain policy has led to low staff turnover and CMB has supported BEST by rescuing apprentices that found themselves without an employer in the midst of their course, offering them placements to enable them to complete their training.

The New Employer Award went to professional services firm Deloitte. Last year, Deloitte entered into a partnership with Cardiff and Vale College to offer its first apprenticeship programme in Wales to develop the future workforce of the Cardiff Financial Services Enterprise Zone. They now offer one of the most innovative apprenticeship programmes in Wales which offers a real alternative to academic learning.

Landowner and developer Rightacres won the Special Recognition Award. Rightacres was integral in the construction and development of Cardiff and Vale College’s City Centre Campus, the venue for the awards. Working closely with the College throughout the development, Rightacres helped ensure that more than 200 young people gained experience through apprenticeships or placements.

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. As a consortium we know apprenticeships work and by developing opportunities for apprentices we can have a huge impact on individuals, employers, communities and the economy.”

The awards had been generously supported by sponsorship from JTL and Safe and Secure Training. QSA apprenticeships are funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.