North Wales council in finals of Vocational Training Awards 2013

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Heather Johnson, Flintshire County Council’s learning and development manager, with trainees (from left) George Jones, Jessica Jones, Lisa Coulthard and Connor Moore.

Flintshire County Council has reached the finals of the prestigious Vocational Qualifications Awards 2013 after developing vocational qualification (VQ) training that has helped its effectiveness.

The council’s commitment to the development of staff vocational qualifications has helped it reach the finals of the EU-backed VQ Employer of the Year, which take places on June 5 – VQ Day – at a ceremony to be held at Coleg Morgannwg, Nantgarw, South Wales.

Flintshire County Council will be up against Nantgarw business services provider Capita and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in the VQ Employer of the Year section of the VQ Awards 2013.

The council has developed and enhanced its vocational qualifications training and development programme. This is leading to managers working and acting more efficiently, resulting in greater efficiencies at a time when public sector budgets are much tighter, according to the council.

“The VQ approach has been endorsed and implemented from the top down, with the council’s chief executive and corporate management team playing a fundamental role in its development and delivery,” said Heather Johnson, the council’s Learning and Development Manager.

“This has included a member of the senior team acting as champion and internal expert for each area of learning.”

The council has had a strong relationship with Deeside College, which has delivered an apprenticeship programme tailored to its needs. Three years ago, the council extended the partnership to deliver a programme developing managers to ensure organisational targets were met.

“Our emphasis on vocational qualifications is reaping benefits for the council, the staff and as a result the citizens of Flintshire” added Mrs Johnson.

VQ Day is designed to celebrate vocational skills and the success they bring, raise standards throughout Wales and identify and publicise exemplars. In addition, the awards highlight that vocational skills improve the performance of individuals and organisations and equip Wales with a world class workforce.

Vocational qualifications have never been more important to the economy and the individual, as they deliver the trained, talented employees businesses are crying out for and ensure young people have the skills needed to succeed in education and work.

Wales’ Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Jeff Cuthbert said: “It’s important that vocational qualifications become, and remain, first choice options for our brightest and best learners and that their worth is fully recognised. VQ Day plays a key role in securing that objective.

“Vocational qualifications haven’t always enjoyed the high-profile and public esteem that they deserve but, as employers will readily testify, they are immensely valuable in preparing people for successful careers in many different fields. They are the cornerstone of a competitive economy.

“One of my priorities since being appointed Deputy Minister has been to ensure that vocational qualifications are recognised alongside academic qualifications for their value to the individual and society.

“That is why, following an independent review of qualifications, the Welsh Government is already taking steps to ensure that vocational qualifications remain relevant, valued and fit for the future.

“I hope that this year’s VQ Day will inspire even more individuals to consider a vocational pathway to success, further cementing the position of vocational qualifications at the heart of our economy and national life.”

VQ Day and the VQ Awards are co-ordinated in Wales by ColegauCymru and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) with the support of the Welsh Government and part funded by the European Social Fund.

Three regional events in Wales will celebrate VQ Day by shining a spotlight on the quality, variety and diversity of vocational qualifications.

In North Wales, Deeside College’s Connah’s Quay Campus is arranging hands-on demonstrations of vocational skills assisted by a range of post-16 education and training providers.

The South West Wales Regional Learning Partnership will also provide hands-on opportunities at Aberavon Shopping Centre, Swansea City Centre and St Elli Shopping Centre in Llanelli. Local radio will be supporting the day across Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.

Apart from hosting the VQ Awards ceremony, Coleg Morgannwg’s Nantgarw Campus will bring education and training providers together with employers to lead workshops and hands-on opportunities.

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