Ambitious apprentice recognised with top business performers

A Coleg y Cymoedd apprentice for Caerphilly Country Borough Council narrowly missed out on an apprentice of the year award in a ceremony recognising business talent in Caerphilly.

21 year old Elliott Keep from Ystrad Mynach is celebrating being nominated as a finalist at the 2015 Caerphilly Business Forum Awards in the Apprentice of the Year category.

Home-grown firms from the South Wales Valleys received recognition at an annual awards ceremony celebrating the stand-out enterprise in one of country’s most ambitious business regions.

Elliott, who is currently studying Level 3 Business Administration as part of his apprenticeship with the college was shortlisted to the final three for the tough category but was narrowly beaten to the top spot.

Elliott was nominated by college tutors for the effective contribution he has made in the workplace and his seamlessly easy adaption to education in the medium of both Welsh and English.

Eight firms and individuals were honoured at the 2015 Caerphilly Business Forum Awards held at Bryn Meadows Hotel, Ystrad Mynach.

Elliott said “I am extremely pleased to have been nominated for the Apprentice of the Year Award, I am looking to build on my knowledge and experience at CCBC to gain full time employment and begin to establish my career”.

Coleg y Cymoedd Trainer/Assessor Rachel Evans said “Elliott is constantly being given added responsibility in his role and is relishing the challenge. His ability to produce work to a high standard while always sticking to timescales is exemplary. We are very proud of him and glad he is being recognised for his achievements.”

Coleg y Cymoedd played an active role in the 2015 Caerphilly Business Forum Awards sponsoring the Entrepreneur of the Year Award which was won by Dean Jenkins of Codez Academy.

Cymoedd players announced in Wales’s women’s squad

Two Coleg y Cymoedd learners on the Elite Women’s Football Academy have been named in the Wales Women’s National Team.

The Wales Women’s National Team squad has been announced by Manager Jayne Ludlow ahead of qualifying match against Kazakhstan in Haverfordwest.

Players Chloe Chivers & Shaunna Jenkins are both in the Elite female football Academy, offered in partnership with Football Academy Wales, based at the Ystrad Mynach campus of Coleg y Cymoedd.

The Wales Women’s National Team play Kazakhstan in a UEFA Women’s EURO qualifier on Thursday, 26 November at the Conygar Bridge Meadow Stadium in Haverfordwest.

16 year old Shaunna Jenkins from Aberaeron who plays for Cwmbran Celtic said: “Being in the Elite Academy has really helped us improve and understand what is takes to become a top level footballer. This is a fantastic opportunity for us and I am really excited.”

Chloe Chivers, 16, from Abertillery who also plays for Cwmbran Celtic said: “We’re lucky in college to be able to study every morning and train every afternoon. It’s a huge honour to go away with the Welsh squad and college have been really supportive.”

Wales go into the match on the back of two away defeats Austria (3-0) and Norway (4-0) but will be looking for their first win against Kazakhstan, who are also yet to win but earned a point in Israel following a 0-0 draw.

Learners who have joined the Academy from all over the country are celebrating the opportunity to represent Wales in international competitions. Alongside their top level training, the learners are studying for vocational sport qualifications or A Levels.

The Elite Football Academy learners benefit from training on the extensive facilities at the multi-million pound Caerphilly Sport Centre of Excellence, which is adjacent to the Ystrad Mynach campus.

Care learners at Coleg y Cymoedd set for rewarding career

Three learners from the Rhondda campus of Coleg y Cymoedd attended this years’ Rhondda Cynon Taf’s Annual Community and Children’s Services Award Ceremony.

The learners joined staff from across the service area including homecare workers, social workers, care home and day centre staff, business support managers, learning disability support workers, specialist Dementia care workers and Foster Carers, who were receiving a range of qualifications and accreditations to ensure they have the skills and knowledge needed.

Ben Vickery, Jasmine Barclay and Carys Dawe who studied on the Pathways to Care course were each presented with their certificates for the Level 2 QCF Diploma in Health and Social Care.

The event at Ty Dysgu recognises the commitment and hard work that has gone into these awards to ensure the learners achieve the skills and knowledge required for employment in the Care sector.

Keynote speaker at the event was Gerry Evans of the Care Council for Wales and expert officers from across the Council, including Chris Harris of the new Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), Carol Smith of the Adult Protection Team, and Mark Anthony, from the Integrated Family Support Team.

Cllr Mike Forey, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Services and Older People’s Champion assisted with the presentation alongside Rhondda Cynon Taf Mayor Cllr Barry Stephens and Mayoress Barbara Stephens.

Cllr. Forey said: “Events such as this are important for showing the scale of the learning and professional development that is taking place right across the workforce we have in place to protect and care for some of our most vulnerable adults, children and young people.

This should be a reassurance for residents, regardless of their age or personal circumstances, that the staff delivering support are committed to personal and professional excellence”.

Course Tutor, Rachel Treharne Howells who attended the event said” The Pathways to Care course is very popular at the college, providing valuable hands on experience. This course is a demanding one; following their induction training the learners spend two days studying at the college and three days at a placement within Rhondda Cynon Taf; where their progress is monitored by college assessor, Bridget Morgan.

We’ve had major success with this course, a previous learner won Carer of the Year Award at the All Wales WorldSkills competition and the majority of past learners have been successful in gaining employment in the Care Sector”.

Fresh look for college restaurant after top spot ranking

A group of budding chefs have turned their hand to marketing and design in a bid to revitalise the brand of their college’s restaurant to reflect its top restaurant ranking on TripAdvisor.

Four learners from Coleg y Cymoedd, all studying Professional Cookery NVQ, were specially chosen to team up with design company Plain Graffic Designs to rebrand the college restaurant following the accolade. The aptly named Nant Restaurant at the Nantgarw campus is listed as one of Cardiff’s three best restaurants on TripAdvisor.

With the help of Gareth Pugh from Plain Graffic, a Pontypridd based design specialists, the learners came up with tangible solutions to refresh the restaurant and keep public interest high. Working together, the group, along with some of college tutors, discussed the vision for Nant Restaurant and areas where improvement could be made. This included more promotional materials and extending the hours of service, to introduce an evening menu.

As part of the Professional Cookery NVQ, the learners put their cooking theory into practice at Nant Restaurant, working there on the three days it is open throughout the week. It was decided, because of this, that they would be the perfect candidates to help rebrand the restaurant, furthering their knowledge in the industry and giving a personal touch to the brand.

Emily Pooley, 18, from Pontypridd, one of the four learners studying on the Professional Cookery course, was chosen to take part in the rebranding project. Speaking about the project she said, “It was really great to be part of the rebranding team because it was so different to the cookery course.

“We’ve been here for two years now and it’s really important to let people know that the restaurant is open to the public. Hopefully the rebranding will keep attracting lots of customers.”

Gareth Pugh of Plain Graffic, who worked with the learners at Coleg y Cymoedd said, “The participants at the college were extremely willing to find out as much as they could about the project and it was really encouraging to see how involved they wanted to be.

“The feedback we received was excellent and every person involved injected some fantastic ideas to take forward in the future. It is safe to say that the overall project has been a success, not only in its final outcome but also through the process, and undoubtedly this is down to the people involved at the college.”

The colleges other two restaurants, Scholars Restaurant at the Ystrad Mynach campus and Llewellyns Restaurant at the Aberdare campus, have also undergone the rebranding exercise and will shortly also be highlighted on TripAdvisor. Elsewhere in the college, Nantgarw’s fully functioning salon has also undergone a rebrand. The salon is open to the general public every day during term time, offering a range of hair and beauty treatments by the learners in the college. It is hoped that offering a fresh look, once again, will invite more custom in.

Paula Marsh, Head of Catering at Coleg y Cymoedd commented, “The restaurant is real labour of love for these learners as they work in there during the week, so it’s been great to see them getting involved in this rebranding. We always like to encourage our learners to put their talents to use in other areas within the college, and this project has demonstrated that many of our cookery learners also have a flare for marketing! We’re all looking forward to seeing their hard work put into place.”

The Nant Restaurant at the Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw campus is currently open to the public Tuesday – Friday. Scholars Restaurant on the Ystrad Mynach campus is open on a Thursday and Friday while Llewellyns Restaurant is open to the public on Thursdays.

Learner ambassadors hope to get a foot in the door in business

Business learners from Coleg y Cymoedd are hoping to use their experience volunteering at SkillsCymru, one of Wales’ largest career and skills events, to help build a future career in business.

The five learners who are currently studying Level 3 Business at Coleg y Cymoedd, were hand-picked to volunteer at the event after going through an application process and interview in order to secure a placement.

Aspiring Business professionals Natalia Crees, Nicola Rogers, Hannah Cattle, Emily Christopher and Sam Braithwaite acted as Ambassadors at the event in Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.

The business students are hoping that the communication, organisation and team-working skills gained at the event will help them to stand out when writing personal statements when applying to study Business at university, and in interviews for employment in Business roles.

The volunteers were recruited from colleges and education providers across Wales to carry out ambassador roles including film presenters, social media coordinators, evaluators and stewards.

17 year old Natalia Crees from Ferndale said ‘I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity I had to take part in Skills Cymru. The team was welcoming and kind to all the volunteers. Taking part in Skills Cymru has built my confidence and I have learnt new skills throughout my two days. They were very long days but extremely enjoyable, I would really recommend it to other pupils that have an opportunity to attend next year.’

Nicola Rodgers, 20, from Pontypridd said ‘Skills Cymru was a great experience! As well as meeting new people I got to see first-hand the different roles within businesses and get a better understanding of the career path I want to take.

Coleg y Cymoedd business tutor Kim Purnell said: “We are thrilled that our students have had the chance to work at Skills Cymru for the second year running. The students were great ambassadors for the course and the college. This was a wonderful opportunity for our students to gain experience of a real life event, its organisation and running. We look forward to working on this again next year.”

Coleg y Cymoedd catering learners also provided interactive displays at the event, tempting visitors with chocolate dips, crepes and non-alcoholic cocktails. Hair and Beauty learners also provided very popular interactive hair styling demonstrations.

A second stylish finish for talented hairdresser

A Coleg y Cymoedd alumni from Trelewis has made it through to the final of a UK-wide skills competition for the second year running. She will once again demonstrate her passion for hairdressing at the nation’s largest skills event.

Ashleigh Simmons, a previous learner at the Nantgarw campus, achieved first place at the Welsh regional finals, earning herself a place amongst 30 others from across the UK to go through to the WorldSkills UK Final which is being held in Birmingham.

Ashleigh also represented the college as a student last year at the World Skills finals, gaining third place in the national final.

Having safely secured her place in the final for a second time from over 1000 initial entrants, Ashleigh is now in the process of preparing for the four day competition, organised by L’Oréal Professional Product.

The competition will involve three stages over four days, with learners demonstrating competencies including including ladies cut and colour following a picture, gents modern cut colour and patterning, gents long hair styling, bridal style and ladies day style on long hair to ensure they possess the main skills of a qualified hairdresser.

The winner will be announced at an awards evening at the end of the fourth day. If placed in the top three, Ashleigh will earn herself a place representing the UK at WorldSkills in Abu Dhabi in 2017.

Ashleigh, 19 from Trelewis, who hopes to one day work as a hair stylist on cruise ships, said “It is fantastic to be taking part in WorldSkills for a second time, each stage of the competition has improved my confidence, taught me new skills and helped me adapt to a pressurised situation. It is always a nerve wracking experience but I have had great support from my college tutors, both when I was studying at the college and since I have completed my course.”

WorldSkills UK plays a key role in raising esteem of learners and inspiring young people to explore further education, skills and Apprenticeships.

Tracey Evans, head of Hair and Beauty at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “We’re extremely proud of Ashleigh for achieving such fantastic results at the Welsh regional finals for the second year in a row.

She has the talent, skills and dedication compete at this UK wide event where the calibre will be really high, and we wish her all the best at the final.”

High profile Chinese delegation visit Coleg y Cymoedd

Coleg y Cymoedd have benefited from hosting an international event of high profile delegates designed to improve partnerships between the UK and China.

As part of a wrap-up event during the ‘UK-China People to People Dialogue’ the college hosted a vocational education roundtable and student showcase to 30 further education professionals from across the UK and China.

The delegation of high profile visitors which included council members, Principals and Presidents of colleges and schools from Chongqing in China was welcomed by Judith Evans, Principal of Coleg y Cymoedd.

China UK People to People Dialogue is an initiative to explore the benefits of international partnerships with particular focus on skills for employability. All representatives have participated in the UK-China Principal Shadowing Programme and developed UK-China college partnerships.

Coleg y Cymoedd has participated in successful skills for employability projects such as the ‘Principals’ Job Shadowing Programme’ and delivering a ‘Train the Trainer’ programme to staff in China on the principles and practices of Work Based Learning.

The delegation were given an insight into the experience of teaching in the UK first hand by Alice Likelei, who is currently at Coleg y Cymoedd on a job shadowing programme in partnership with Chongqing City Management College.

Principal Judith Evans participated in a ‘round table’ event with the delegation to discuss how international partnerships impact on skills development in relation to achievements and impact, challenges and responses and further recommendations.

All participants took part in a discussion as to how further collaboration opportunities areas can be developed in next three years. Discussions were learner centred and focused on how international partnerships impact on skills development and how colleges can support more young people to benefit from international learning.

The visit also included a student showcase to celebrate and demonstrate the achievements of learners from both UK and Chinese colleges with a focus on partnership activities that best demonstrate student confidence, creativity and entrepreneurship.

Coleg y Cymoedd International Officer Kath Bishop said: “It is fantastic for the college to be part of this scheme to improve partnerships between ourselves and China. The opportunity to network with other experts in UK-China collaborations in the vocational sector helps us to build on the excellent work we are already doing, and scope new areas to focus on that will benefit learners both in Wales and China.”

Former learner retains title at the IPC Athletics World Championships

A former college learner has set her sights clearly on Paralympic gold, after retaining her F46 javelin title at the IPC Athletics world Championship in Doha.

Twenty-one year old Hollie Arnold who lives and trains in Cardiff is a former learner at the Ystrad Mynach campus of Coleg y Cymoedd, where she studied Sport Development.

Hollie and her family moved to South Wales to enable her to access coaching and take advantage of the high quality sports development opportunities available in Wales.

Hollie first became interested in javelin at the age of ten, after seeing her older brother throw. Determined to have a go herself, she picked up the javelin and discovered she had a talent for the sport; she was the youngest ever track and field athlete when she competed in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, aged just 14 years.

Her skills and determination, as well as the support of her family, have seen her win an impressive array of awards; including discus and shot putt.

Hollie set a new Personal Best and Championship Record of 40.53 metres at the event in Qatar and is now concentrating on a Paralympic gold medal. Poland’s Katarzyna Piekart is the current F46 javelin World Record holder, having thrown 41.15m in the London Olympics in 2012.

Hollie stated” The experience of being part of Team GB has been great, I’m so proud to be part of it. I was in the best shape of my life and am over the moon to have retained my title; there was a lot of pressure on me, being the last to throw.

My next challenge is Paralympic Gold, I have never won a major medal at a Paralympics but it’s always been in my sights. I’m now more focussed and that’s definitely my aim – so get ready Rio, because I’m coming!”

Staff at the college were delighted with Hollie’s news; Hollie’s personality and dedication had left them with no doubt that this talented young athlete would go far.

On 17th November, Coleg y Cymoedd will host an Advice Day. The Advice Day will run from 4pm to 7pm and will provide an opportunity for prospective learners and their families to explore the college’s facilities and learn more about available courses.

Learners gear up for industry developments as multi-million pound motor vehicle centre is complete

Completion of the multi-million pound Motor Vehicle Training Centre of Excellence in Ystrad Mynach is set to put learners from the area at the forefront of major developments in the industry in South Wales. 

The £2.1m facility at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Ystrad Mynach campus will meet the growing demands in the industry for state-of-the-art training facilities. The new centre will provide industry-leading motor vehicle repair, maintenance workshops, as well as diagnostic and testing facilities for over 60 learners each year.

Multiple investment opportunities in South Wales – including St Athan as a main contender for the new location of Aston Martin’s next production centre, Ford’s £181m investment into Bridgend, and a possible multi-million pound automotive factory development in Ebbw Vale – could significantly expand the motor vehicle industry in region.

Thefull time learners currently on the Motor Vehicle course at Coleg y Cymoedd will not only perfect their trade at the new facility, but position themselves as skilled workers in line to fill a potentially huge labour force in the South Wales.

Along with staff and learners, Julie James AM, Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, attended the official opening of the Ystrad Mynach site.

At the event, the Deputy Minister said, “I was delighted to attend the official opening of the Motor Vehicle Training Centre of Excellence in Coleg y Cymoedd’s Ystrad Mynach campus and would like to thank all who I met there for the warm welcome I received.

“Today I have seen at first-hand the college’s commitment to training learners. Through this new facility Coleg y Cymoedd is able to develop a highly skilled workforce in an area of high deprivation and allow individuals to gain the skills needed for working in the motor industry”.

The high quality commercial standard facilities will benefit younger learners via the college’s participation in the School Links programme. The scheme means pupils from neighbouring schools can attend the Ystrad Mynach campus one day a week for their Level 1 qualification on the course, which also offers a Welsh speaking strand to the course. School Links has proven especially beneficial in the past to secondary school pupils who prefer a vocational route, with 40 pupils from School Links currently taking part in the course.

Previously based at the Rhymney campus, the new location for the facility will also significantly reduce the commute for many of the learners on the course.Christopher Phillips, 27 from Cilfynydd said, “In my first year on the course, it took me around 45 minutes to get to the Rhymney campus. It was an investment I was willing to make as I loved the course, but it now only takes me about 12 minutes to get to the Ystrad Mynach campus. Not only that, but these are the best facilities I’ve ever experienced.

“I came back to learning after leaving education when I was 18 to dedicate time to my family, and the college have been really understanding of my needs with a young son. Once I complete the course I am hoping to join a big franchise dealership. My dream is to work with Land Rover.”

Celebrating the completion of the facility, Principal Judith Evans, said, “We’re delighted that the Motor Vehicle Training Centre of Excellence is complete and our learners are already benefiting from our specialist training and equipment. We remain dedicated to delivering the latest training, education and career opportunities to young people in the Valleys.

“With major developments for the motor industry on the horizon in South Wales, it is vital that we can offer the highly skilled workforce the industry requires, and Coleg y Cymoedd is committed to ensuring our learners are at the forefront of any employment and skills opportunities that could come their way.” 

On 17th November, Coleg y Cymoedd will host an Advice Day. The Advice Day will run from 4pm to 7pm and will provide an opportunity for prospective learners and their families to explore the college’s facilities and learn more about available courses.


Wellington Street
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF44 8EN


Heol y Coleg
Parc Nantgarw
CF15 7QY


Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF40 2TQ

Ystrad Mynach

Twyn Road
Ystrad Mynach
CF82 7XR

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