National award for women in farming role model April
A shining role model for young woman seeking a career in the male dominated farming industry has been named Apprentice of the Year for Wales.
April Davies, 21, from Dolfor, near Newtown, received the award at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2013, organised jointly by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). The high profile awards ceremony was held at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport.
“It feels amazing to have won this award and to be recognised for doing something different to what girls usually do,” said April. “It’s a wow moment knowing that I have managed to achieve something as big as this.”
The awards recognise the outstanding achievements of learners, employers and providers involved in the delivery of quality apprenticeships and other work-based learning programmes across Wales. The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with the support of the European Social Fund.
Not only did April face the barrier of coming from a non-farming background, but she found she was the only girl on her work-based learning course at Coleg Powys (now Grŵp NPTC Group Newtown campus) for four years.
Refusing to let that stand in her way, she achieved a Foundation Apprenticeship and an Apprenticeship in Agriculture. She attended the college one day a week whilst working for farmer Ben Beddoes at Common Piece Farm, Churchstoke and his Dairy Dreams ice cream business.
Her work placement involved getting to the farm sometimes at 5am to help milk the cows and she has been involved in all the other aspects of the business, including using large agricultural machinery and helping to run and promote the diversified ice cream business.
April is now used as a case study by Lantra, the Landbased Sector Skills Council, to attract other young women into the industry.
“Although I knew it would be difficult because I didn’t come from a family farm, I was determined to succeed,” she said. “I have been very lucky to have a placement with an employer who believes in my ability and allows me to use my business and entrepreneurial skills gained at college in both the agricultural and ice cream business.”
In addition to her full time job, she has also set up a small-scale sheep enterprise, which she hopes to develop in the future.
Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Ken Skates said: “The Apprenticeship Awards allow us to celebrate the range of skills that our young people have to offer as well as the dedication shown by employers and training providers and I’d like to congratulate all of the worthy winners.
“It was a real pleasure to meet such hard-working and ambitious young people who have all achieved so much, as well as the employers and training providers who have gone that extra mile in supporting young people to fulfil their potential. They are all a credit to themselves and an inspiration to others.
“Our recent budget announcement has confirmed an additional £12.5 million to extend our Jobs Growth Wales programme for a fourth year. This means that we can create more than 4,000 extra job opportunities for 16-24 year olds in 2015-16. The Welsh Government will also be investing a further £20 million in 2015-16 to support apprenticeships. This is excellent news for our young people and our employers and will allow us to make a real difference.”
Showcasing excellence in skills development in Wales, the awards are sponsored by Pearson PLC with support from media partner, Media Wales. Award Sponsors are Leadership & Management Wales and ACT Training.