A south Wales collegeâ€™s commitment to supporting serving and former Armed Forces personnel and their families has been recognised at a national awards ceremony.
Coleg y Cymoedd has received a Silver Employer Recognition Scheme Award from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in celebration of its commitment to the Armed Forces community. It is the first FE college in Wales to receive the accreditation.
The Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) rewards and recognises UK employers for their support and commitment towards defence. The award is reserved for organisations that pledge, demonstrate or advocate support to defence and the Armed Forces community and align their values with the Armed Forces Covenant.
The award follows a number of policies that have been implemented at the college to encourage the employment of former service men and women, as well as support learners and staff who are seeking to become reservists.
Coleg y Cymoedd currently employs 15 former members of the Armed Forces across a range of departments, including engineering and aerospace, with the college actively working with the military to engage veterans and increase this number in the future.
The award recognised a commitment to upskilling individuals leaving the Armed Forces and the funding that has been made available at the college to support ex-service personnel through training and education; to enable the conversion of any experience or qualifications they gained in the military into a recognised qualification.
The educator is also part of the Armed Forces Pathway Scheme, which is designed to provide the Armed Forces family â€“ Regular, Reserves, youth and veterans â€“ with opportunities to enhance their skills and also give those with an interest in a career in the Armed Forces the chance to learn more about how to gain a foothold.
Judith Evans, Principal at Coleg y Cymoedd said, â€œWe are very proud to have this recognition as supporting the Armed Forces community is something that is very important to us. Those who have joined us following their service to the country bring great value to the college, providing a wealth of knowledge, skills and experience that cannot be overstated.
â€œColeg y Cymoeddâ€™s mission is to ensure that all members of our community have access to the education provisions that lead to real opportunities. We are therefore committed to supporting the core values of the military service and helping those entering or leaving the services to achieve the best of their potential.â€
As well as assisting ex-military, the college has a dedicated policy in place to encourage and support reservists, offering both staff and learners time and support for their role as well as up to 10 days to cover any leave required to undertake reservist duties.
Earlier this month, members of the Armed Forces visited each of the collegeâ€™s four campuses in Nantgarw, Ystrad Mynach, Aberdare and Rhondda to speak to learners in all departments about the career opportunities within the Armed Forces, including reservist work and full-time positions. The talks were tailored to different subjects with the army, marrying up its varying departments with the relevant courses, such as bringing down members of its catering team to speak to catering learners.
Following the success of the event, the college will arrange for learners interested in becoming a reservist to visit barracks and take part in work experience with the army to get a feel of what that career would involve.
In January, Coleg y Cymoedd will host a celebratory event for all ex-forces and reservists who currently work or have worked at the college. It will also use the event as an opportunity to hear the thoughts of ex-forces and reservists on what the college can do, to further help, individuals coming out of the army with their transition into employment.
Judith Evans added, â€œThe event is a way of us giving back to our Armed Forces community, acknowledging and celebrating the fantastic contribution that they have made to the college.â€