Celebrating the best apprentices in the region at the Quality Skills Alliance Annual Awards 2019
Nineteen of the finest apprentices working in Wales have had their hard work and dedication celebrated at a special awards ceremony.
Employers and practitioners 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 City Centre Campus and hosted by Ross Harries.
The apprentices’ commitment was celebrated at the sixth Annual Awards ceremony held by the Quality Skills Alliance – a consortium of work-based learning providers made up of 20 partners and subcontractors. The awards celebrate excellence and achievement, and the winners were chosen by a panel comprising the QSA’s chair – CAVC Principal Kay Martin – and board.
The overall award for Apprentice of the Year went to Skillnet and CAVC Level 2 Automotive Body Repair apprentice Charlotte Ward who also won Automotive Apprentice of the Year. A great team player at Ford Mon Motors in Newport who has progressed well , Charlotte won Ford Apprentice of the Year for Body Repair in 2018.
Charlotte said: “I can’t believe I won these two awards to be honest – it’s honest to god amazing. I knew about the Automotive award but I did not know I was getting Apprentice of the Year. That was a big shock and I’m just so happy – it’s, like, wow!
Having been to university and deciding it was not for her, Charlotte chose the apprenticeship route instead.
“I found an apprenticeship and I knew it would be for me because I like studying but I wanted the hands-on experience,” Charlotte said. “To get a wage on top is an added bonus – I just think it’s the best way forward for me.
“I’m employed by Ford Mon Motors in Newport and I think they’re great. They really are inclusive and I get along with everyone there. I get the same as all the other apprentices; they don’t take into account that I’m a girl.
“I’d definitely recommend apprenticeships to other people. I think they’re the best way forward – you get hand’s on experience and qualifications and get wages as well. It’s brilliant.”
The Creative Industries Apprentice of the Year Award went to Sgil Cymru Apprentice Adam Neal. He stood out during his apprenticeship with BBC Cymru Wales, and has landed his dream job as a full-time researcher with them – quite an achievement for someone with no previous media training.
“I actually feel over the moon about this award,” Adam said. “I still can’t believe it.
“The apprenticeship means a lot to me because I thought my chance had gone. The guys at Sgil Cymru gave me a lifeline and I went with it – I just can’t thank them enough.
“I went to university many years ago but I didn’t finish it so I went into the world of work. On the off chance I chose an apprenticeship because I thought it’s my last chance to get into the media industry which is a very difficult industry to get into. I thought ‘What have I got to lose?’ And here I am today.
“The experience has been fantastic from day one. I am thankful for every single person who has pushed me through, from Sgil Cymru to the BBC Academy and also to all my colleagues at BBC Studios.”
Lois Harris won the Engineering Apprentice of the Year Award. The Newport and District Group Training Association (NDGTA) Level 3 Engineering apprentice was the first female apprentice at Bisley and instantly made a good impression.
She has now secured full-time employment in the firm’s Design department and her attention to detail and commitment and her employers know they can always rely upon her to produce the highest standard of work. Bisley has support her progression to HNC then HND levels of study.
“It feels amazing to have won the award to be honest,” Lois said. “I’m still shocked that I was put forward for it.
“I was looking at my options after finishing comprehensive school and I though university wouldn’t give me the sort of hands-on, practical experience I thought I really needed for engineering. I was the first female apprentice at Bisley and it was a really positive experience – we need more women in engineering and I am noticing more, which is also a positive thing.
“I’ve really enjoyed my apprenticeship. I love the balance of the theoretical side and the practical, hands-on stuff – that’s where you get the experience you need for the working environment.”
The Sustainable Resource Management Award was won by Safe and Secure Training apprentice Connor Honeyfield. Employed by Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council, Connor has shown amazing progression from learner to leader.
Starting off as with the Council as an agency worker, Connor became employed as a full-time loader. Signing up for a Sustainable resource Management Apprenticeship, Connor became seconded to the enforcement team and took on extra tasks, finishing his apprenticeship and becoming fully qualified six months early. Connor then managed a fourth promotion to team leader.
Connor said: “I feel brilliant about winning the award – it’s something to be proud of and it shows hard work pays off. I think my apprenticeship was definitely a springboard for my progression and I’d highly recommend apprenticeships.”
Marion Denis won the Insurance Services Award. Employed by Acquis, Focus On Training apprentice Marion is originally from France and completed a two-year course in 12 months, despite moving back to France half way through.
Impressed by her hard work and commitment, Acquis have now offered her a role as team leader in a new office, based in Amsterdam.
Marion said: “Winning the award was a real surprise because I didn’t expect that. I was really happy when I was told because it’s a recognition and I worked hard so it’s a nice feeling.
“Coming from France, you have to adapt to the language first, and the regulations are not the same so I had to learn a lot about UK laws and regulations. It’s been really interesting as well.
“I started in my company as a customer service advisor then I became a team leader, then I became a customer service co-ordinator and I’m about to become leader of operations in a new office in Amsterdam. That’s a great progression in six years!
“I would definitely recommend an apprenticeship as it’s a good opportunity to learn new things and progress in your career.”
The Role Model Award for 2019 went to two winners – twin brothers and Electrical Installation apprentices Connor and Tom Lewis. Both employed by family firm Blues Electrical Connor and Tom are inspirational, getting to the top in a series of national and international skills competitions, culminating in Tom being selected for Team UK in the WorldSkills Finals which will be held in Russia this year – the only Electrical apprentice representing the UK.
NDGTA Operations Manager Diane Purslow was also recognised for her excellent work in helping apprentices through their courses. She knows each and every one by name, and Diane has made her original job of Administration Manager so all-encompassing that her role has been changed to Operations Manager.
Employers were also celebrated for their commitment to apprentices. Angela Gray’s Cookery School won the Small Employer Award, while Heatforce won for Medium Employer and Deloitte for Large Employer.
Dŵr Cymru won the New Employer of the Year Award. The sixth largest regulated water and sewage company in England and Wales providing services to more than 3m people, Dŵr Cymru recently started working with Cardiff and Vale College to offer apprenticeships and both parties are continuing to grow and develop this partnership.
A special new Innovation and Partnership Award was won by BBC Cymru Wales. In 2018 CAVC and BBC Cymru Wales built on their long-standing relationship by launching the first ever Digital Journalism Apprenticeship alongside the 25 apprenticeships the BBC already offers every year.
Training will be provided by CAVC in partnership with the BBC Academy. The apprenticeship is aimed at providing opportunities for people from under-represented communities in journalism – a notoriously difficult sector to gain a foothold in.
Steven Sandrey, New talent Schemes Manager at BBC Cymru Wales, said: “I’m elated that we have won this award.
“It’s part of the BBC’s commitment to show more interest in apprenticeships and this new programme shows people that we value apprentices. Working with CAVC is great, as well.
“Apprenticeships are something that in the past seemed really important but it sort of died down. Now it is becoming important again.
“It makes a lot of sense to me and the young people I work with to earn as you learn. It’s definitely the way forward and I would recommend it to other people.”
CAVC Principal and QSA Chair Kay Martin said: “It really 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 apprenticeships we can have a huge impact on individuals, employers, communities and the economy.”
The awards had been generously supported by sponsorship from Coleg QS Training, Focus Training, NDGTA, JTL and Safe and Secure Training. QSA apprenticeships are funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.