Young people and employers from across South Wales have been celebrating the success of IT Apprenticeships at a graduation ceremony to mark their achievements.
Nine Apprentices, who have completed a Level 3 IT Apprenticeship with Coleg y Cymoedd and Acorn’s Training Division, were awarded certificates by Rhondda Cynon Taf Councillor, Jill Bonetto, at the college’s Nantgarw campus.
The Apprenticeships resulted from an opportunity to progress existing students from a ‘Pathway to Apprenticeship Programme’ onto employed positions via Acorn’s Apprenticeship contract, operated through the Welsh Government and part-financed by the European Social Fund.
This programme is a new delivery model that Acorn and Coleg Y Cymoedd delivered in partnership. Coleg Y Cymoedd provided the knowledge based element ‘off-the-job’ at the college, whilst Acorn provided the competence element ‘on-the-job’ with local employers, such as Chad IT, Chapter Arts, Computer Recyclers UK, Oakdale Comprehensive School, MPCT, Partners IT, Rhondda Cynon Taff County Council, and the Representative Body of the Church in Wales.
The initiative has enabled the Apprentices to gain life-skills and practical experience, while enhancing their future long term career prospects, and Acorn and the College will be expanding their partnership with a new cohort of students from September 2014.
20-year-old apprentice Craig Jones, from Tonypandy, said the experience has changed his life: “It’s the best decision I’ve made. Apprenticeships develop your knowledge and skills but they also provide the life skills needed for working within a business.”
Craig, with support from Acorn, secured an Apprenticeship with the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, where he’s been learning to solve technical issues and support the centre with IT needs for creative projects.
Craig said: “Chapter’s an amazing place, and I love going to work. We have thousands of people through our door daily with all sorts of activity going on, so ICT is really pivotal to the business.
“Before, I had no knowledge of how networks ran and I didn’t even like talking on the phone. Now, I’ve developed skills in ICT networking and troubleshooting, and I’m talking to and supporting people all day. I’m more confident in myself and I’m much better at problem-solving.” he said.
“Coleg y Cymoedd is a brilliant place to meet like-minded people, and Acorn supported me from day one. The whole experience has definitely made a difference to my career and I really hope to stay at Chapter.”
Craig is now hoping to move onto an IT Foundation Degree and secure a full time job at the Centre, if public funding is available.
Craig’s Manager at Chapter Arts, Graham Hill, says Apprenticeships are good for employers: “As a non-profit organisation with limited payroll, our IT had previously been delivered on a shoestring. Craig’s Apprenticeship has enabled us to create a new IT Department that can support the growing needs of the business, whilst remaining cost-effective.
“Since his first day Craig has been a committed member of the team, and has approached his work with energy, enthusiasm and a desire to learn.”
Speaking at the ceremony at Coleg y Cymoedd, Councillor Jill Bonetto said: “Apprenticeships are seen as an important route for allowing people to gain on-the-job experience and qualifications, and are fantastic for employers in terms of finding talent and as a way of developing and retaining existing staff. These successful graduates are being set on their way through quality training to good jobs and careers, armed with the skills employers need for success.”
Sarah John, Acorn’s Commercial Director of Learning and Development said: “Apprenticeships are a cost-effective solution for up-skilling and maintaining workforce skills in any industry and, in light of increasing skills shortages, are important for ensuring that companies are developed in a way that suits their business needs.”
Anyone who is interested in finding out more about Acorn’s Apprenticeship schemes should visit www.acornpeople.com/training.