Photograph by AS Photography Student John Gwilliam
Valleys students with aspirations to work for one of the growing number of dynamic female-run businesses in Wales had a golden opportunity to show off their talents to prospective employers this week.
The students from Coleg y Cymoedd, one of Wales’ largest further education institutions, displayed their skills in many different fields to hundreds of business women gathered at the college’s new £43 million Nantgarw campus for the flagship ‘Superwoman’ conference.
The annual event is so called because its founder, solicitor Bethan Darwin, wanted recognition for the way women entrepreneurs juggle the rigours of business with the demands of family life. Armed with their skills in numerous fields, including catering, event management, photography and arts and crafts, the Coleg y Cymoedd students hosted their high-achieving guests for an occasion that has become a major date in the Welsh business calendar.
Speakers shared stories of how they balance different aspects of life. Among them were Sian Gunney of PR and marketing company Peacock Media Group, an experienced business woman who urged guests at the event to ‘follow your dream.’
Also speaking were; Kirsty Manning of gourmet food business Cnwd who spoke about how she manages to juggle running two businesses and a young family at the same time; and Dilys Price, founder of charity Touch Trust that offers creative movement programmes for individuals with learning and other disabilities. Dilys celebrated her 80th birthday by doing a sky dive to raise funds for Touch Trust.
Judith Evans, principal and chief executive of Coleg y Cymoedd said: “Hosting Superwoman is fantastic for our students because they can showcase all that they’ve learnt so far in front of hundreds of businesswomen who are potential employers. Not only is getting real life training an effective way of putting skills into practice, but it can make them much more attractive when it comes to entering the world of work.” Bethan said: “Not only do our members multi-task but so does our conference. It’s a networking event where you can learn from inspirational women, raise money for charity, and do some shopping by visiting the stalls. The Superwoman event is also community-minded and we are delighted to be supporting and being supported by the college and its students.”
In addition to the annual October conference it involves smaller networking events throughout the year, and raises money for charities – over £41,000 since setting up in 2005. The cost is £35 with net proceeds being donated to Valleys Kids, a charity working with disadvantaged children and families in the south Wales valleys and Touch Trust.
Coleg y Cymoedd was formally launched last month by the First Minister Carwyn Jones, where he emphasised the need for even closer working relationships between further education institutions and industry for the benefit of the Welsh economy.
The college, which has been created from the merger of Coleg Morgannwg and The College Ystrad Mynach, serves more than 25,000 students drawn from Wales’ traditional industrial heartland in the boroughs of Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taff and surrounding areas. Many of the students are apprentices and trainees from a wide variety of businesses across the valleys and the college also provides the largest choice of A-levels on one site to over 600 learners.
With an annual turnover of more than £42 million, Coleg y Cymoedd has 1,000 staff working across five campuses - Aberdare, Nantgarw, Rhondda, Rhymney and Ystrad Mynach.
All educational provision across Coleg y Cymoedd’s five campuses remain available from September 2013, providing one of the widest ranges of subject choices in Wales for learners.