Award-winning dairy farmer endorses value of apprenticeships

Posted on by karen.smith

English | Cymraeg

An award-winning Anglesey dairy farmer advocates apprenticeships as the best way for young people to earn while they learn a trade.

dairy farmer in field with apprentice

Farmer Will Williams with apprentice Ffion Griffiths with his dairy herd in the background.

William Williams farms around 450 acres with his two sons, Rhys and Tom, at Clwch Dernog Bach, Llandeusant, where they have a herd of 250 Holstein dairy cows. The herd has the prefix Clwch, Blaengar and Arbennig Holsteins.

William, who established his Clwch herd in 1992 with just 20 cows, won Holstein UK’s Master Breeder award in 2019. The herd was judged best in North Wales for four years running and William, who joined the Holstein UK Board in 2020, has added awards at Anglesey Show and Denbigh and Flint Show.

To help with calf rearing and weekend milking on the farm, the Williams family has recruited apprentice Ffion Griffiths, who is working towards a City & Guilds Foundation Apprenticeship in Work-based Agriculture (Livestock Production), delivered bilingually by Grŵp Llandrillo Menai.

“I think apprenticeships are great,” said William. “Ffion contacted us in April last year to ask if she could come and learn how to milk. She came every other weekend to start and when the cows started calving in July, we decided we could do with an extra hand, so Ffion’s apprenticeship began last September.

“We have got somebody who is young, enthusiastic and keen to learn and she is being paid whilst we get a little bit of financial help from the Welsh Government to take her on. It is good that Ffion, who doesn’t come from a farming background, is learning our way.

“By the time she finishes her apprenticeship, she will be able to work on any dairy farm if she decides to move on. I think there should be more apprenticeships, as they are the best way to learn a trade.”

He fully supports bilingual apprenticeships, particularly as his family speaks Welsh as their first language. “We hardly ever speak English, so it makes sense that Ffion’s apprenticeship is bilingual,” added William.

Charlotte Roberts, work-based agricultural assessor at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, said: “The Williams family are absolutely brilliant with Ffion, supporting her and explaining everything they do whilst also involving her in all aspects of the farm.

“Apprentices are able to complete practical, verbal and written assessments through the medium of Welsh. A lot of the apprentices I work with are first language Welsh speakers and they know all the farming terminology in Welsh.

“Grŵp Llandrillo Menai promotes learning bilingually and through the medium of Welsh. The online portfolio system that we use is in English only, so I send everything to translators in the college to ensure that all the questions are bilingual for learners.”

Farmer and apprentice with dairy herd

Dr Dafydd Trystan, from the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, said: “Highlighting successful employers who are active in the apprenticeship sector is a vital tool in showing businesses and individuals that it is both possible and advantageous to support bilingual apprentices.

“With the Welsh Government’s target to reach one million Welsh speakers by 2050, it has never been more important for employers and their employees to develop their bilingual skills to increase their business and employability prospects respectively.”

Ryan Evans, the NTfW’s bilingual champion, said: “Many workplaces are becoming more bilingual, which can be very beneficial to employers, especially when providing services to Welsh speaking customers.

“Completing an apprenticeship bilingually or in Welsh can increase an individual’s confidence to work in both languages and their employability, whilst also being a great asset to their employer.”

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

To find out more about apprenticeship opportunities go to Careers Wales or telephone 0800 028 4844.

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