April is living her dream as role model to young women in farming
April Davies, 21, from Dolfor, near Newtown, is one of 36 finalists in 13 categories of the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2013, organised jointly by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW).
The awards recognise the outstanding achievements of learners, employers and providers involved in the delivery of quality apprenticeships and other work-based learning programmes across Wales. The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with the support of the European Social Fund.
The winners will be announced at a high profile awards ceremony at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport on Friday, October 18.
Not only did April face the barrier of coming from a non-farming background, but she found she was the only girl on her work-based learning course at Coleg Powys (now Grŵp NPTC Group Newtown campus) for four years.
Refusing to let that stand in her way, she achieved a Foundation Apprenticeship and an Apprenticeship in Agriculture. She attended the college one day a week whilst working for farmer Ben Beddoes at Common Piece Farm, Churchstoke and his Dairy Dreams ice cream business.
Her work placement involved getting to the farm sometimes at 5am to help milk the cows and she has been involved in all the other aspects of the business, including using large agricultural machinery and helping to run and promote the diversified ice cream business.
April is now used as a case study by Lantra, the Landbased Sector Skills Council, to attract other young women into the industry.
“Although I knew it would be difficult because I didn’t come from a family farm, I was determined to succeed,” she said. “I have been very lucky to have a placement with an employer who believes in my ability and allows me to use my business and entrepreneurial skills gained at college in both the agricultural and ice cream business.”
In addition to her full time job, she has also set up a small-scale sheep enterprise, which she hopes to develop in the future.
Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Ken Skates said: “The Apprenticeship Awards Cymru remind us of the incredible wealth of talent that Wales has to offer and the outstanding achievements of Wales’ learners, employers and learning providers.
“Apprenticeships play an integral role in our economy. Not only do they provide essential skills and qualifications, but are in themselves life-changing opportunities for young people and, for employers, a major investment that’s paying real dividend to their bottom line and in the skills of their workforce.
“We know that apprenticeships deliver real business benefits and that’s why the Welsh Government, with support from the European Social Fund, continues to invest heavily in opportunities for young people to take up apprenticeships and continues to support employers who want to invest in the future of their workforce.
“Through their passion and dedication, the finalists announced at this year’s awards will inspire countless others to strive for excellence and demonstrate the tremendous impact that vocational training can have. I wish all of our finalists the very best as they continue to make great contributions in their chosen fields.”
The other Apprentice of the Year finalists are Emma Brooks, a children’s nursery worker from Llandrindod Wells and young engineer Aron Wyn Jones from Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Showcasing excellence in skills development in Wales, the awards are sponsored by Pearson PLC with support from media partner, Media Wales.
More than 300 key stakeholders from the vocational education and training sector across Wales are expected to attend the high profile awards ceremony, where guests will dine out with chefs from the Welsh National Culinary Team.