Employers and learners across Wales urged to enter VQ Awards

Posted on by karen.smith

Jenine Gill – memorable, award-winning year for Little Inspirations

Jenine Gill of Little Inspirations children’s nurseries, winner of last year’s VQ Employer of the Year Award.

A successful entrepreneur who has established four children’s nurseries in South Wales is encouraging learners and employers across the nation to enter this year’s Vocational Qualification (VQ) Awards, which launched today (March 2).

A memorable 2015 saw Jenine Gill, director of Llantrisant-based Little Inspirations, named VQ Employer of the Year and her company won Best Service Business in Rhondda Cynon Taff and was an Apprenticeship Awards Cymru finalist.

Since winning the VQ Award last summer, she secured a Flying Start contract to open her fourth nursery, in Barry, which created six new jobs. The business as a whole continues to grow, as she now has a trained workforce of 66 caring for up to 160 children a day.

“The business continues to go from strength to strength and I’m sure the VQ Award helped us to win the Flying Start contract,” said Jenine. “We have definitely attracted new clients as a result of the award.”

Encouraging employers and learners across Wales to enter this year’s awards, she said: “You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain and it’s a chance to receive some appreciation and recognition for the hard work you do.

“If your company is investing in people and providing top quality services, then get your nomination in. For learners, if you have an inspirational story to tell about your learning journey which has brought you success, then the awards are for you.”

Little Inspirations, established 14 years ago, has children’s nurseries in Llantrisant, Rhydyfelin and Barry. The company is recognised as an Investors in People, a lifelong learning centre and the Llantrisant nursery has been identified as sector leading by Estyn.

Jenine, who is dyslexic and left school with minimum GCSEs, is passionate about vocational learning as a pathway to fulfilling the true potential of her staff to provide the optimum standard of care to children attending the nurseries. Every member of staff has either completed or is engaged in an Apprenticeship.

The VQ Awards are organised by the Welsh Government, the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) and CollegesWales with European Social Fund support.

There are three categories of awards – employer of the year, intermediate learner of the year and higher level learner of the year. The intermediate award is for learners with qualifications up to level three, while the higher award is for qualifications from level four upwards.

The VQ Learner Awards recognise learners who clearly demonstrate progression and excellence in vocational studies and have made considerable achievements in their field. The VQ Employer Award focuses on employers who promote the value of vocational qualifications in the workplace and make a real contribution to improving the skills and national competitiveness.

Now in their 9th consecutive year, the awards coincide with VQ Day on June 8, a celebration of vocational qualifications for students, teachers, training providers and employers.

Entries close on April 22 and three finalists in each category will be shortlisted and announced in early May. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on the evening of June 7 at St David’s Hotel, Cardiff, the day before VQ Day. For more information about the awards and to download an application form please visit https://vqday.wales.

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James said: “A VQ award is more than just an award; it’s a symbol of dedication towards your chosen profession.

“Professional and personal development programmes are utilised for staff to enable them to follow a pathway of learning to meet company, customer and individual needs and the VQ awards help us to celebrate those Welsh employers and learners who are already going that extra mile when it comes to developing vocational skills and qualifications.

“If the Welsh economy is to continue to grow then we must ensure that employers, individuals and the Welsh Government work together to invest in the right skills for success in order to equip Wales with a world class work force.”

Learning providers across Wales are being encouraged to organise regional events to celebrate VQ Day and engage with learners of all ages. Vocational qualifications have never been more important to the economy and the individual, as they deliver the trained, talented employees that businesses are crying out for and ensure young people have the skills needed to succeed in education and work.

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