Sasha Jones’ decision to quit a college course to focus on an Apprenticeship with an award-winning inn and restaurant is paying rich dividends.
Twenty-year-old Sasha has progressed from a part-time waitress to full-time front of house supervisor and keyholder at the Nags Head Inn, Garthmyl, near Montgomery in the space of three years.
Improving her skills and business understanding through Apprenticeships has transformed her confidence and her inspiring learning journey was rewarded in March when she was named Outstanding Individual of the Year at Cambrian Training’s annual Apprenticeship, Employment and Skills Awards.
“It was a brilliant decision to drop out of college to do an Apprenticeship at the Nags Head because it has opened so many doors for me,” she says. “I never liked being stuck in a classroom and I have found that I’m much better suited to learning on the job.
“You get the best of both worlds by doing an Apprenticeship – learning new skills while being paid to work. I think a lot of students are missing out. A friend of mine is in university and she will have a big student loan to pay back when she leaves, whilst I will end up with an equivalent qualification, have gained valuable work skills and have nothing to pay back.
“By doing the Apprenticeships, I am supporting my ultimate goal of one day opening my own bar.”
Whilst Sasha and her work colleagues were furloughed for three months during the Covid-19 lockdown, she put the time to good use by progressing with her Higher Apprenticeship and completing a range of other work-related qualifications online.
Having completed an Apprenticeship (Level 3) in Supervision and Leadership three months early, Sasha is now cracking on with a Higher Apprenticeship (Level 4) in Hospitality Management.
During lockdown, she also developed a new cocktail menu and worked with manager Amy Clark on a marketing plan, which is now paying off. Since reopening, the Nags Head Inn, which employs 28 full and part-time staff, has been busy, serving up to 300 meals a day.
Thanking Cambrian Training’s training officer Mel Canning for her flexible learning support, Sasha said: “Mel is absolutely amazing. She is so supportive and arranges her visits to suit the business and me.
“The business has also been great in supporting me to get my personal license which will allow me to serve alcohol on and off the premises. I’m also planning to do a mixologist course for cocktails.”
Amy, who mentors Sasha, is equally as enthusiastic about Apprenticeships. “The fact that an Apprentice learns on the job skills specific to the trade they are in is worth much more than any university degree could offer,” she said.
“I also think it helps that Apprentices can learn at their own pace without exam pressure. They are definitely the way forward and the employer benefits because the Apprentice is more invested in the business.
“When Sasha joined us, she was fresh out of college and didn’t know what she wanted to do. She has progressed so much that she is now an important member of the team and is helping to train new recruits.
“The support we get from Cambrian Training is very good. Mel can’t do enough for Sasha and she’s always at the end of the phone if we have any questions.”
The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.