Determination through adversity leads to flourishing retail career

Posted on by karen.smith

Leanne Williams with Steve Owen, Babcock International Training (right) and Asda Wrexham general store manager Shaun Leech.

Leanne Williams with Steve Owen, Babcock International Training (right) and Asda Wrexham general store manager Shaun Leech.

Leanne Williams from Wrexham now has a flourishing retail career with ASDA, thanks to the Welsh Government’s apprenticeship programme.

Leanne, 31, overcame significant personal challenges in completing her retail apprenticeship. Not only did the return to formal learning after a long period, she did so while working full-time and supporting her mum through breast cancer treatment.

As reward for her success, she 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.

At school Leanne lacked confidence, but she is now a manager at ASDA with a raft of Level 2 and 3 retail qualifications. When the apprenticeship opportunity, provided by Babcock Training, came up, she grasped it, alongside the challenge of combining fast-paced retail work with her coursework and her mum’s hospital appointments. “I needed something to concentrate on and I knew this would make both of us proud,” said Leanne.

ASDA were quick to reward Leanne’s determination, offering her further training that has seen her rise to section manager. “The one to one support has been a massive boost and it’s my ambition to complete Level 4 qualifications now being introduced to ASDA,” said Leanne, who has recently become a mum for the first time.

“Personallt, I feel so much more confident in the workplace, however I’m most proud of the success of the other participants in store,” said Leanne. “I hope I have been able to inspire them. If I was to be chosen as Apprentice of the Year, it would show that anything is possible.”

Leanne’s mentor at ASDA, Mike Morgan, said: “Leanne has consistently challenged herself in her career and personal life and has supported others to achieve as well.”

Wales’ Minister for Skills and Science Julie James congratulated Leanne and the other 32 shortlisted award finalists. “We are proud to be delivering one of the most successful apprenticeship programmes 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.”

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