Best In Wales Celebrate At Awards Ceremony

Posted on by karen.smith

Cutting edge technology in world leading businesses, bespoke Apprenticeship programmes designed to meet the needs of industry and inspiring individual success stories were celebrated at a high profile awards ceremony at Venue Cymru, Llandudno last night (October 24).

The prestigious National Training Awards and Apprenticeship Awards brought together the cream of learners, employers and training providers, who have shown total dedication and commitment to skills development and business improvement across Wales.

Showcasing excellence in skills development in Wales, the joint awards were organised by the Welsh Government in partnership with the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). The Apprenticeship Awards were sponsored by Pearson and the National Training Awards were sponsored by City & Guilds.

The National Training Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of employers who have Investors in People accreditation and who have used excellence in training and skills development to impact on their business. The awards were split into categories for small, medium and large companies.

Wales Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert (centre), celebrates with winners at the National Training and Apprenticeship Awards 2012

Wales Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert (centre), celebrates with winners at the National Training and Apprenticeship Awards 2012

The National Training Award winners were:

Small Employer: Anthony A. Davies Group, Abergavenny.
Medium Employer: Utility Partnership Ltd, Cardiff.
Large Employer: Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Carmarthen.

Highly commended were COASTAL E3 Project, Swansea; TRB Limited, St Asaph, Pennaf Housing Group, St Asaph and RCT Homes, Pontypridd.

The Apprenticeship Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of learners, employers and providers involved in the delivery of quality Apprenticeship and Traineeship programmes across Wales, which are part funded by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government.

The Apprenticeship Award winners were:

Apprentice of the Year: Steven Owen, 19, head chef at The Bull and Heifer, Bettws Cedewain, Newtown.
Entrepreneurial Apprentice of the Year: Gavin Zembrzuski, owner of TAG-Z, Llandrindod Wells.
Foundation Apprentice of the Year: Nik Petrakis, co-owner of nickymichaels, Cyncoed, Cardiff.
Small Employer of the Year: Eastern Leisure Centre, Cardiff
Medium Employer of the Year: Tritech Precision Products, Wrexham.
Large Employer of the Year: SA Brain and Co Ltd, Cardiff
Macro Employer of the Year: BT, Cardiff.
Apprenticeship Provider of the Year: Cambrian Training Company, Welshpool.
Steps to Employment Learner of the Year: Katrina Kind, The New Cranford, Colwyn Bay.
Traineeships Learner of the Year (Engagement): Natasha Fenton, Tint Wizard, Neath.
Traineeships Learner of the Year (Level 1): Alex Dawe, West Coast Labs, Cardiff.

The judges also gave a ‘Special Recognition Award’ to Rhian Perrin, Airbus UK, Broughton for her passion in going into local schools and promoting engineering as a career for other young women.

Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert said irrespective of whether or not they collected an award, all 37 finalists were winners. Each had an inspiring story to tell, making them true ambassadors of Investors in People, Apprenticeships and other skills development programmes in Wales.

“These awards recognise excellence by individuals, employers and learning providers in delivering training,” he added. “I was delighted with the standard of this year’s finalists and the variety across all ages and sectors, which demonstrates the strength of the skills being delivered in Wales.”

Wynne Roberts, NTfW chairman, said: “The award finalists are excellent examples of a partnership approach to skills development in Wales involving the Welsh Government, employers, apprentices, trainees and providers working together to deliver a high quality, high performing workforce. They are ambassadors who I am sure will champion skills programmes as one of the solutions for economic recovery.”

In the National Training Awards, Anthony A. Davies Group, Abergavenny collected the Small Employer award. When Anthony and wife Dawn began preparing for retirement they created an in-house management team by training staff to take over key roles. Senior managers trained as coaches, through the Workforce Development and Enhanced Leadership and Management Skills programmes.

The Medium Employer award went to Utility Partnership Ltd, Cardiff, who provide energy solutions for businesses such as Asda. The company wanted to grow but staff lacked management experience. With funding from Skills Growth Wales, a two-year training programme helped to achieve the company’s target of 20 per cent growth, with 28 new jobs created and 21 employees promoted.

By reviewing training for newly-promoted crew managers, Large Employer award winner Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service helped improve emergency responses and saved almost £20,000 in training fees.

The service found it difficult to secure part-time staff, which had an impact on its ability to respond effectively to emergency calls. The review identified the need to train more crew managers and update their development programme. Of the 78 candidates enrolled, 22 have completed the course with a saving of approximately £900 per candidate.

In the Apprenticeship Awards, Apprentice of the Year Steven Owen, 19, is making a name for himself as head chef at The Bull and Heifer, Bettws Cedewain, Newtown. The restaurant is so popular that customers booking well in advance to sample his cooking.

Entrepreneurial Apprentice of the Year, Gavin Zembrzuski, 23, owner of TAG-Z, Llandrindod overcame dyslexia to achieve an Apprenticeship in Fabrication and Welding and has now set up a successful business selling products across the UK and exporting to Europe.

Foundation Apprentice of the Year Nik Petrakis, 26, left school with no qualifications at the age of just 13. Today, after a successful Apprenticeship and a year working in Florida, he has just opened his own hairdressing salon called ‘nickymichaels’ in Cyncoed, Cardiff.

A key to the succes of Small Employer of the Year, Eastern Leisure Centre, Cardiff, is employing fully trained staff to provide a wide range of services. The council-owned centre, which is due to expand early next year, employs six apprentices and has taken on 17 over the past five years.

Attracting and maintaining a pipeline of talent is pivotal to the success of Medium Employer of the Year, Tritech Precision Products, Wrexhamm which employs 160 people manufacturing specialised investment castings. The company invests significantly in Apprenticeships and training due to the specialist nature of its work and the skills required by its employees.

Large Employer of the Year, SA Brain & Co Ltd, is a leading Cardiff-based brewer and retailer employing more than 2,200 employees throughout Wales and the South West of England. With employees in pubs, hotels, restaurants and recently acquired Coffee#1, the company has a diverse range of vocations where it provides opportunities for Apprenticeships.

BT, Cardiff, Macro Employer of the Year, is one of the world’s leading telecommunications businesses with a significant presence in Wales. Currently employing 136 apprentices in Wales and having taken on 699 in the past five years, BT places Apprenticeships at the core of its recruitment and training framework.

Cambrian Training Company, Apprenticeship Provider of the Year, is a business with a clear mission to be the best work based learning provider in Wales. With 36 employees and offices in Welshpool, Holyhead, Aberaeron and Brecon, the company has developed strong relationships with employers and apprentices by delivering high quality, flexible training solutions to businesses of all sizes.

Steps to Employment Learner of the Year, Katrina Kind, 21, left school with no qualification but has found her vocation as a carer at The New Cranford residential home in Colwyn Bay, where works with older people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Natasha Fenton, 17, Traineeships Learner of the Year (Engagement), has turned a work placement into her dream job, working for sign-printing company, Tint Wizard, in Neath.

Alex Dawe, 18, Traineeships Learner of the Year (Level 1), has secured a post as an apprentice trainee test engineer after a successful work placement at West Coast Labs in Cardiff.

The other finalists were:

National Training Awards Small Employer: Staedtler (UK) Ltd, Pencoed, Bridgend. Apprenticeship Awards finalists were: Apprentice of the Year: Bryn Arfon Jones, Magnox Wylfa Power Station, Anglesey. Foundation Apprentice of the Year: Ben Williams, North Wales Golf Club, Conwy and Ryan McAnerney, Airbus UK, Broughton.

Steps to Employment Learner of the Year: Robert Owen Jones, Wrexham ITeC. Traineeship Learner of the Year (Engagement): Kirsty Bird and Owen Edwards, ACT Training, Cardiff. Traineeship Learner of the Year (Level 1): Dale Price, Powys Training, Llandrindod Wells and Katie Roberts, Wrexham IteC.

Small Employer of the Year: Head Office, Barry; Phoenix Hair and Make Up, Abergele. Medium Employer of the Year: DRB Group, Deeside; Cefndy Healthcare, Rhyl. Large Employer of the Year: GE Aviation Wales, Nantgarw and Newport City Homes, Newport. Apprenticeship Provider of the Year: ISA Training, Pencoed, Bridgend and Babcock, Cardiff.

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