Special effects company wins national apprenticeship award

Posted on by karen.smith

Carmela and Danny Hargreaves from Real SFX with the Small Employer of the Year award.

A BAFTA-award winning company that provides the special effects for clients including Doctor Who, Sherlock and Casualty completed a memorable week by winning a prestigious national apprenticeship accolade.

Cardiff-based Real SFX collected the Small Employer of the Year award at the high profile Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2014 ceremony at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport on Friday, (October 31).

Earlier in the week, the company had won a Welsh BAFTA for its work on Dr Who. “We were very surprised to win this massive award because there was so much talent in the category,” confessed company director Carmela Hargreaves.

“We only started the business three years ago and have had some amazing support from BBC Wales and Cyfle,” added fellow director Danny Hargreaves. “This award is down to a great team effort.”

The awards, divided into 13 categories, are organised jointly by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). Showcasing excellence in skills development in Wales by learners, employers and learning providers, the awards were sponsored by Pearson PLC with support from media partner, Media Wales.

The awards recognise employers who commit to developing their workforce through apprenticeships and other work-based learning programmes, which support employees during their training. They are also a great way to evaluate training and development, as well as a fantastic motivational factor for any workforce or learner.

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

Founded in 2008, Real SFX specialises in fire, explosive, mechanical rigs, model making and soft props for TV, film and the events industry.

Safety around live special effects is paramount for this eight-strong business that has worked with training provider Cyfle to develop a specific apprenticeship programme in creative and digital media at their Penarth Road workshop. This has seen three apprentices recruited over the past three years with more in the pipeline.

“There is no recognised academic qualification in practical special effects, therefore our Apprenticeship Programme provides the ideal platform to work and learn simultaneously,” explained Carmela.

“The Apprenticeship Programme is embedded into the Real SFX business plan and with the future opening of Pinewood Studios Wales and the continued Welsh Government support for the sector, there is huge potential for apprentices to grow with us.”

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James said: “Apprenticeships are one of the most practical and cost effective ways for a business to build a skilled workforce. An apprentice can learn the skills an employer needs to keep pace with developments in their industry and deliver the service customers demand. I am delighted that employers like Real SFX, share the Welsh Government’s commitment to training our future workforce.”

More than 400 key stakeholders from the vocational education and training sector across Wales attended the awards ceremony, where guests dined out with chefs from the Culinary Team Wales.

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