Focus on apprentices lands Welsh council a national award

16 Nov 2018 News Company

Building a strong economy, promoting independence and positive living for all and creating neighbourhoods where people are proud to live and work are core goals for Rhondda Cynon Taf Council which has won a prestigious national award.

The council was named Macro Employer of the Year at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru held at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport.

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s employment, education and training manager Sian Woolson said: “We are thrilled to be recognised for the work that we are doing with our learners. This award is recognition that we are doing an excellent job.

“The future holds further investment and opportunities for more learners, including existing employees and new recruits.”

 The annual awards are designed to showcase and celebrate the outstanding achievements of learners, employers, tutors and assessors who have excelled in contributing to the development of the Welsh Government’s Traineeships and Apprenticeship Programmes.

Jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), the coveted awards are supported by media partner, Media Wales. The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

At the heart the council’s ethos is the Apprenticeship programme which offers apprentices the opportunity to learn and develop in a dynamic and future-focused organisation.

The council works with a range of external partners, including Bridgend College, ALS and Coleg y Cymoedd, to deliver more than 20 Apprenticeships in diverse careers such as engineering, horticulture, health and social care, fitness, mechanics, and technical sound, light and stage.

Back in 2012, the council recognised an ageing workforce and identified the need to develop highly trained and experienced employees to meet future skill and staff shortages.

A two-pronged approach is, firstly, to embed the current 85 apprentices alongside experienced mentors and a dedicated co-ordinator to develop them into highly competent individuals with long term employment prospects with Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.

Secondly, the development of experience and knowledge will contribute to reducing levels of unemployment and the skills deficit throughout the borough.

External stakeholders play a critical part in the two-year Apprenticeship journey and recently the council collaborated with public service trade union Unison to create an innovative Apprenticeship Charter.

Sian Woolson said: “We view an Apprenticeship as the beginning of a journey extending beyond their initial two-year period. This has resulted in over 90% of our apprentices securing employment and education opportunities with the vast majority staying with us.”

The success of the programme has seen Rhondda Cynon Taf Council develop secondary school workshops and collaborate with Merthyr Tydfil Council on a joint recruitment programme.

Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan congratulated Rhondda Cynon Taf Council together with the other award winners and finalists for setting the gold standard for Apprenticeships and Traineeships.

She praised the council for going the extra mile to support apprentices and for its commitment to the Apprenticeships Programme in Wales.

“The Welsh Government regards Apprenticeships as a priority area and, with support from the European Social Fund, has committed to creating a minimum of 100,000 high quality all-age Apprenticeships over this Assembly term,” said the Minister.

“We have a clear vision for addressing the needs of Welsh businesses, developing skills pathways and increasing higher level skills that benefit the whole of Wales. If the Welsh economy is to continue to grow, then we must work together to equip Wales with a world class workforce.”

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Euro social fund Wales

The Apprenticeship, Traineeship and Jobs Growth Wales Programmes, led by the Welsh Government, are supported by the European Social Fund