Meet the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru employer finalists

Posted on by karen.smith

English | Cymraeg

Star employers, inspirational learners and dedicated work-based learning practitioners across Wales have been shortlisted for this year’s prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru on June 17.

The annual celebration of outstanding achievement in training and apprenticeships will see 35 finalists compete in 12 categories for awards at a virtual ceremony.

Highlight of the of the work-based learning calendar, the awards showcase businesses and individuals who have excelled on the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship and Traineeship Programmes and gone the extra mile to achieve success during these unprecedented times.

The Apprenticeship Awards Cymru are jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). Openreach, the UK’s digital network business and passionate supporter of apprenticeships, has renewed its headline sponsorship of the awards.

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund. Welsh Government apprenticeship programmes have benefitted 101,590 people across Wales since May 2016.

Today, we introduce successful employers who are recognised with awards in four categories.

Small Employer of the Year (1 to 49 employees)

Compact Orbital Gears, Rhayader has developed a multi-skilled and flexible workforce to become a leading name in specialist gear transmissions for more than 50 years.

The company, which has 43 employees, designs, manufactures and develops bespoke gear solutions for aerospace, automotive and clean energy customers. A focus on growing its own pool of skilled engineers is paying off for Compact Orbital Gears when there is a UK shortage.

The company has three apprentices and five other young employees working towards Further Education qualifications, delivered by Myrick Training and NPTC Group of Colleges.

Wales England Care Limited, a domiciliary care provider based in Newport, says its Apprenticeship Programme is integral to its growth plans after successfully improving performance and quality and reducing staff turnover.

In the past year, the Newport-based company says the programme has contributed to a 57% increase in sales and a 98% client approval rating by improving the skills, confidence and efficiency of its staff and reducing costs, resulting in a 177% rise in net income.

Staff turnover has fallen dramatically since apprenticeships were introduced while care hours delivered weekly have increased from 200 to 1,000 hours since 2017.

Focused on delivering high quality care, Wales England Care has a workforce of 42, including 13 apprentices working towards Apprenticeships in Health and Social Care at Levels 2 to 5. Training is delivered by sister company, Wales England Care Training.

Small Employer of the Year finalist Thomas Skip and Plant Hire’s directors Iestyn and Natasha Thomas with apprentices Louise Jones and Malcolm Williams.

Thomas Skip and Plant Hire in Caernarfon says bilingual apprenticeships have been key to the growth of the successful independent skip and waste management company.

Because it is located in a predominantly Welsh speaking region, the company says it’s important that staff learn through the medium of Welsh. Apprenticeships, delivered by Cambrian Training, are helping the company to retain staff and improve their customer service and waste industry knowledge.

Thomas Skip and Plant Hire, which has three apprentices in a workforce of 10, is committed to protecting the environment by diverting as much waste from landfill as possible.

Medium Employer of the Year (50 to 249 employees)

Andrew Scott Limited of Port Talbot celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2020 by continuing to invest in the next generation of skilled employees.

With several senior management positions now occupied by former apprentices, the longest established Welsh construction company is maximising the ‘Welsh pound’ by recruiting locally and training them for long-term careers.

Alongside the Margam-based firm’s direct Apprenticeship Programme, Andrew Scott Ltd uses the Cyfle Shared Apprenticeship Scheme which has supported more than 50 recruits.

Apprentices are placed through CITB Wales at Coleg Sir Gar and Neath Port Talbot College on Bricklaying, Carpentry and Civil Engineering Construction Operative courses.

Medium Employer of the Year finalist Convey Law’s managing director Lloyd Davies with apprenticeship tutor Sophia Ramzan and apprentice Sean McCarthy.

Convey Law’s 50% growth plans in 2021 are being fuelled by an innovative in-house Apprenticeship Programme that its managing director Lloyd Davies describes as “life-changing”.

The Newport-based firm developed its pathway after struggling to recruit conveyancers, finding it more beneficial to train up apprentices in the latest client-service protocols, whilst supporting them with their learning in a way that reflects the company’s value and work ethic.

Through a funding partnership with Cardiff and Vale College, Convey Law created The Conveyancing Academy in 2014 which has helped to meet recruitment targets, with conveyancers increasing from 25 in 2019 to 55 in 2020. Apprentices have doubled from 15 to 30 in a year.

Cambria Maintenance Services Limited, which has bases in Ewloe and Cardiff, says investing in the development of its workforce and succession planning have been essential to the continued success of the business which maintains more than 12,000 properties across Wales.

The company employs more than 160 staff, including 16 apprentices who are considered key to the business’ future success. Part of the Wales & West Housing Group, Cambria has employed 37 apprentices over the past 10 years and has a rolling, five-year plan which will see more employed.

Coleg Cambria and Cardiff and Vale College deliver a Foundation Apprenticeship in Maintenance Operations and Apprenticeships in Electrotechnical and Plumbing/ Heating for Cambria.

Large Employer of the Year (250 to 4,999 employees)

Police Constable Angela Williams, professional development officer with Large Employer of the Year finalists Dyfed Powys Police’s Learning and Development Services.

Heddlu Dyfed Powys Police, based in Carmarthen, has transformed its recruitment process after reaping the rewards from its work-based learning programmes.

The force has recruited 200 apprentices over the past five years, with more than 150 currently employed across the organisation and undertaking any one of 10 courses provided by up to nine learning providers.

The Apprenticeship Programmes is tailored to specific needs to ensure that the learning is applicable for the service that the force provides to the public.

As well as opening the door to new recruits, internal careers fairs encourage staff members to involve themselves in their own development and progression, leading to plugging the skills gaps with highly skilled, knowledgeable and motivated individuals.

Aspire Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil has created a pioneering Apprenticeship Programme to plug the manufacturing industry’s skills gap whilst tackling high unemployment across two local authorities.

The Shared Apprenticeship Programme benefits companies that have adopted its innovative approach where learners are rotated around host employers to achieve units towards their apprenticeship.

In 2015, the Ebbw Vale Enterprise Zone Board identified the significant lack of employees with Level 3 and above skills in Blaenau Gwent, and two years later, Merthyr Tydfil also came online.

Aspire is now working with both Coleg y Cymoedd, who link with Coleg Gwent, and Coleg Merthyr Tydfil to foster the next generation of skilled workers through apprenticeships covering Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, ICT, Applied Science, Quality Engineering as well as Business/Commercial Administration and Finance.

Dow Silicones UK Limited, Barry has successfully turned to apprenticeships as the main pipeline for supplying its specialist workforce.

As one of the largest material science companies in the world, Dow has produced silicone intermediate products at its Barry facility since 1952. The company is working closely with several learning providers, including Cardiff and the Vale College, to offer five pathways at Levels 2 and 3 and a further three pathways as Higher Apprenticeships.

Dow’s maintenance apprentice team is designing, building and delivering a working equipment process for the college to use as a learning aid on campus.

Many apprentices have moved into senior positions over the past 10 years, with Degree Apprenticeships also available in partnership with Trinity St David’s University and University of South Wales for those wishing to discover new career opportunities.

Macro Employer of the Year (5,000 plus employees)

Versatility has been the key to the success of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s established Apprenticeship Programme, which has continued to thrive despite the challenges caused by a global pandemic and Storm Dennis.

The council’s 80 apprentices were set up at home while virtual learning and extensions to courses and deadlines were implemented. Apprentices have been deployed to support essential community services, have worked with the NHS on coronavirus shielding data have distributed food parcels.

The council responded to last February’s storm, which damaged highways, bridges and town centres, by recruiting an additional four civil engineering apprentices.

This commitment to training has seen an apprenticeship completion rate of 94% with eight out of 10 apprentices going to be employed by the council.

Macro Employer of the Year finalist Swansea Bay University Health Board’s widening access and workforce inclusion organisational development manager Marie-Andree Lachapelle with apprentice and staff development co-ordinator Abbie Finch and former apprentice Bethany Jones, who is now postgraduate medical and dental supervisor.

Swansea Bay University Health Board has placed a healthier and more equal Wales at the heart of its Apprenticeship Programme, which currently has 29 apprentices and a further 18 awaiting starts across 17 Apprenticeship Frameworks.

Working with training providers Neath Port Talbot College and Gower College Swansea, the Health Board’s Apprentice Academy offers a ‘try before you buy’ opportunity whereby a learner can change pathway to a more suited course.

Apprentice and staff development co-ordinator Abbie Finch said: “One of our aims is to increase apprenticeship opportunities for those with a disability and those within the Black Asian Minority Ethnic community whilst addressing gender inequality within our 12,500 staff.”

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