Employers and inspirational individuals who have excelled in apprenticeship, skills and employment training programmes delivered by one of Wales’ top training companies were recognised at an annual awards night on Wednesday.
Cambrian Training Company (CTC), which has its head office in Welshpool and offices in Builth Wells, Holyhead, Colwyn Bay and Llanelli, held its third annual Apprenticeship, Employment and Skills Awards at the International Pavilion on the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells.
Fifteen companies and learners from across Wales who are engaged with programmes delivered by the company had been shortlisted, with CTC Managing Director, Arwyn Watkins OBE, describing them as the “cream of the crop” from more than 2,500 apprentices and 600 employers currently working with their support.
“Nothing gives us greater pride than being able to recognise excellence so I would like to congratulate all who have been nominated, and particularly the winners,” said Arwyn.
“The finalists are the cream of the crop and provide inspiring stories that show just how successful apprenticeship programmes are being implemented across Wales.”
Winners of each category will have the chance to be put forward for the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru, which are jointly organised by the National Training Federation for Wales and the Welsh Government later this year.
The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.
Large Employer of the Year
Powys County Council’s Waste and Recycling Department has been investing in its work-based learning programmes for more than 40 years and currently has 31 apprentices.
The regional authority provides a career path right through to senior management, with a learning and development team on hand to support its role as an investor in its staff.
“Powys County Council has been providing apprenticeships since 1978 as I was one myself back then!” said Ian Harris, Senior Manager. “We are a big promoter of investing in apprenticeship training and very much believe in Richard Branson’s statement to ‘look after your staff and the staff will look after your business’.
“Powys County Council believes in building careers by apprenticeship training our employees and developing their skills set and we are grateful to Cambrian Training for the excellent work they do with us to develop our team.”
Medium Employer of the Year
Radnor Hills, based in Knighton, believes that providing apprenticeship training for its multi-national workforce is just as important as the quality of its four million bottles of drink produced each year.
Its apprenticeship programme started in 2017 with 10 enrolled, and two years later over 50 apprentices are benefitting from the company’s full time apprenticeship training facility.
“It means a lot to win this award,” said Dave Pope, General Manager. “We invest a lot of time, effort and resources into our apprenticeship programmes, but it is paying off.
“It has had a big impact on staff retention and by giving our people more knowledge they are able to put that back into the workplace. It was not easy to start, but having our dedicated learning facility on site has made a big difference.”
Small Employer of the Year
Brød – The Danish Bakery, from Cardiff, is investing in its employees to develop the next generation of artisan bakers.
The independent bakery and coffee shop’s specially-tailored apprenticeship training programme has provided real hands-on experience so that apprentices can develop successful careers in the food industry.
“I didn’t expect to win, but I am delighted,” said owner, Betina Skovbro, who moved to the UK from Denmark in 1998. “I thought it might be a gamble to start an apprenticeship programme because we have no margin for error in baking. It means I am hard on my staff because I expect a lot from them, but they have responded superbly to the training programmes.
“My grandfather was a baker and I started this business because I felt artisan baking was a dying trade which I wanted to do something about by training the next generation. Our apprenticeship programme is certainly helping with that.”
The other finalist was Greenacres Rescue, Haverfordwest.
Foundation Learner of the Year
Andrew Bennett has an extraordinary story to share and says he is proof that no matter what your age or educational background may be, you can still succeed through an apprenticeship.
The 50-year-old’s entry to Bryson Recycling in Abergele was through community service following a dangerous driving conviction in 2016, but he impressed the company enough to eventually land a job and through a Sustainable Recycling Awareness Apprenticeship, he has become an acting site supervisor.
“This award shows what can be achieved through hard work,” said Andrew, who is also dyslexic but has raised his Maths and English level to a grade C. “I have really enjoyed my learning programme which has undoubtedly helped me to rise to my current position.
“I am also looking forward to moving on to another level once I complete this current course in the coming weeks. I guess you are never too old to learn!”
The other finalists were: Carley-Ann Foley, 28, The Dognasium, Swansea and Matilda Penny, 23, Vaughan’s Butchers, Penyffordd.
Apprentice of the Year
Despite having a degree, Rebekah Chatfield, from Abertillery, credits her apprenticeship for kick-starting a career in bakery.
The 23-year-old’s Certificate in Proficiency in Baking Industry Skills has turned her hobby as a home-baker into an exciting career with Brød – The Danish Bakery, where she says perseverance, passion and hard work are helping her to grow within the business.
“There are not many women in the industry so hopefully this award sends out a message and more will be encouraged to join,” she said. “It’s a dream to turn my passion into a career and the support I have had from the company and Cambrian Training has made it all possible.
“I want to carry on learning and next week I am doing a professional bread baking course. I also intend to do a higher apprenticeship.”
The other finalists were Stephen Whiffen, 37, Radnor Hills, Knighton; Codi Wiltshire, 21, Jewson Limited, Builth Wells and David Price, 38, Powys County Council’s Sustainable Resource Management Team, Brecon.
Higher Apprentice of the Year
Undertaking a Higher Apprenticeship in Hospitality Management has not only secured a full time position for Angharad Price-Evans at Stena Line in Holyhead, it has also seen her rise through the ranks to become a supervisor.
Her employer says that she has “worked tirelessly” and the 28-year-old is undergoing more apprenticeship training with an eye on securing a management role.
“A lot of hard work has gone into winning this award but I have thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Angharad. “It has paid off 100%. It has been a hell of a learning curve to go from a zero-hours contract to where I am now, and I can’t thank Sam (Mantache) from Cambrian Training enough for being there with me and helping me through.
“I will continue to learn and improve because I definitely want to become a manager at the company.”
The other finalists were Kevin Whyley, 61, Mainetti, Wrexham; Lee Price, 58, Powys County Council, Rhayader and Tracey Giliam, 53, Bryson Recycling, Abergele.
For more information, please contact Katy Godsell, Cambrian Training Company’s marketing manager, on Tel: 01938 555 893 or David Williams, public relations adviser, on Tel: 079 54 106604.