Apprenticeship leads to life-changing career opportunity in renewables
Michael Leach from Pontypridd has benefited from a life-changing career opportunity in an industry he truly believes in, thanks to the Welsh Government’s apprenticeship programme.
Michael, 31, is one of the first people to complete the new Level 3 Apprenticeship in Wind Turbine Operations and Maintenance in Wales. This has meant overcoming significant challenges including returning to the classroom after many years and travelling long distances from home.
As a reward for his dedication, he has been shortlisted for the Apprentice of the Year award at this year’s Apprenticeship Awards Cymru, which take place at Venue Cymru, Llandudno on October 20.
Jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), the prestigious awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of individuals, employers and learning providers who have excelled in contributing to the development of the Welsh Government’s Traineeships, Jobs Growth Wales and Apprenticeship programmes. The Awards 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.
After a year learning basic engineering skills at a local college, Michael spent the second year of his course at Grwp Llandrillo Menai, Rhos-on-Sea, studying wind turbine technology. The final year was on-site training at an offshore windfarm near Thanet in Kent with Isofab. Gaining all possible distinctions and helping others on his course, Michael impressed his managers so much that they nominated him for Renewables UK Apprentice of the Year 2015, which he won.
During his apprenticeship, Michael spoke about his experiences at the Renewables Conference in Cardiff’s City Hall and to MPs at a Wind Awareness event in Parliament.
Now a Wind Turbine Technician for Vattenfall, working at Pen-y-Cymoedd, the largest onshore wind farm in England and Wales, Michael said: “I wasn’t the stereotype apprentice; I hadn’t just left school and because of this I always felt I had something to prove, if only to myself. I am humbled by the recognition from college assessors and colleagues.”
Contracts Manager at Isofab, Richard Morris, said: “Michael has demonstrated to us that he has the attitude, self-determination and drive to succeed in this challenging industry.”
Wales’ Minister for Skills and Science Julie James congratulated Michael and the other 32 shortlisted award finalists. “We are proud to be delivering one of the most successful apprenticeship programmes in Europe with success rates in Wales remaining well above 80 per cent,” she said.
“Developing skilled people is vital for our economy. We have some truly exceptional apprentices here in Wales and the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru provide a perfect platform for us to celebrate their hard work and achievements. Equally important are the learning providers and employers who go the extra mile to support their apprentices.”