Liam wins national apprentice award after changing career

Posted on by karen.smith

Liam Gill receives his award from Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Julie James.

Liam Gill receives his award from Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Julie James.

A successful career change from personal trainer to engineer paid dividends for Liam Gill from Swansea when he won a major honour at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2015.

Liam, 26, who has found his true vocation in life working for Ford Motor Company, Bridgend, was named Apprentice of the Year at the high profile awards ceremony held at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport on Thursday.

“I really didn’t expect that,” he said after receiving his award. “It was an accomplishment just to get shortlisted and I can’t believe that I’ve won.

“Changing my career was the best move I’ve ever made. I had been to university but that didn’t suit me and I only realised how good apprenticeships are when I started one. It has paid off massively and I’m so chuffed.”

The coveted awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of those who have exceeded expectations, shown a dynamic approach to training and demonstrated initiative, enterprise, innovation, creativity and commitment to the improvement of skills development for the Welsh economy.

Jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), the awards are sponsored by Pearson PLC and media partner is Media Wales. The Apprenticeship Programme, led by the Welsh Government, is supported by the European Social Fund.

Now working as a Mechanical Engineering Apprentice with the Ford Motor Company, Liam is making quite a name for himself by coming up with new ideas that have saved the company more than £80,000 a year.

He attended Bridgend College in the first year, learning workshop skills, maintenance techniques and more. The second year he spent with the training department at Bridgend Engine Plant, with one day a week in college.
Liam completed his NVQ Level 3 in Mechanical Engineering Maintenance and also his BTEC Level 3 Diploma with distinctions in all modules.

“I started my apprenticeship with Ford at the age of 24, older than most others on my course,” he said. “I have always given my best efforts to achieve high standards and I wanted to set a good example for the younger apprentices.

“The training techniques and fault diagnosis included in the Apprenticeship have been superb and I will be able to use these experiences to take with me when I qualify. I have developed skills specific to my career in engineering as well as other, broader skills that will benefit my career.”

He’s now studying for a Higher National Certificate at Bridgend College and is also starting a degree in Manufacturing Systems Engineering at University of Wales, Trinity St. David this autumn.
His mentor, Gary Fender, said: “I have been in engineering for 33 years and Liam is one of the best I have ever seen. His effort and commitment are outstanding, as is the quality of his work.”

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Julie James said: “Congratulations to all winners and finalists. We have some truly exceptional apprentices and learners here in Wales and these awards provide a perfect platform for us to celebrate their hard work and achievements.

“Equally important are the training providers and employers who go the extra mile to support their apprentices. We are proud to be delivering one of the most successful apprenticeship programmes in Europe with success rates in Wales remaining well above 80 per cent. Developing skilled young people is vital for our economy.”

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