Award winner Paula proves it’s never too late to learn

Posted on by karen.smith

Paula Blundell with the Foundation Apprentice of the Year award.

Teaching assistant and midday superviser Paula Blundell has proved it’s never too late to learn by winning a prestigious national award.

Paula, a 40-year-old mother of one from Bryn-Y-Baal, near Mold, was named Foundation Apprentice of the Year at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2013, organised jointly by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). The high profile awards ceremony was held at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport.

“Winning this award reaffirms that my career is taking the right path,” she said. “I love my job and it’s the kids that spur me on. I can’t believe that I was chosen because the calibre of the other finalists was so high.”

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.

Paula, who works at Ysgol Mynydd Isa, near Mold, has completed a Foundation Apprenticeship for Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools through Wrexham IteC and is now working towards an apprenticeship.

“I want to show other people who have a family to look after that it is never too late to learn,” she said. “I never thought I could do it, but I have and I am moving on to a higher level now. It has opened up a whole new world to me and I am doing a job I love. I am looking forward to learning in the future and throughout my career.”

Paula confesses that she never found a job that she truly enjoyed after leaving school with a handful of GCSEs at the age of 16.

Her new career began when she secured a post as midday superviser at her son’s school and started helping out in class. She really enjoyed working with the children and was encouraged to begin a Foundation Apprenticeship.
“Despite not having studied for over 20 years, I thoroughly enjoyed researching and developing my skills and knowledge,” she said. “I love supporting the children and seeing their faces when something clicks for them. It is a great honour to be trusted and I always strive to do my best for them.”

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Ken Skates said: “The Apprenticeship Awards allow us to celebrate the range of skills that our young people have to offer as well as the dedication shown by employers and training providers and I’d like to congratulate all of the worthy winners.

“It was a real pleasure to meet such hard-working and ambitious young people who have all achieved so much, as well as the employers and training providers who have gone that extra mile in supporting young people to fulfil their potential. They are all a credit to themselves and an inspiration to others.

“Our recent budget announcement has confirmed an additional £12.5 million to extend our Jobs Growth Wales programme for a fourth year. This means that we can create more than 4,000 extra job opportunities for 16-24 year olds in 2015-16. The Welsh Government will also be investing a further £20 million in 2015-16 to support apprenticeships. This is excellent news for our young people and our employers and will allow us to make a real difference.”

Showcasing excellence in skills development in Wales, the awards are sponsored by Pearson PLC with support from media partner, Media Wales. Award Sponsors are Leadership & Management Wales and ACT Training.

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