Apprentice engineer wins regional manufacturing award

Hard work and determination has seen a learner from Porth overcome the challenges brought by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and win the country’s top apprenticeship award for manufacturing and engineering.

Coleg y Cymoedd learner, Jamie Jones, has been presented with the Apprentice Endeavour Award by the judges of the Wales Manufacturing Awards 2020, who recognised the fortitude and resilience he’d applied throughout his apprenticeship programme with Llantrisant-based design and manufacture company, FSG Tool and Die Ltd.

The annual Wales Manufacturing Awards are held by the national manufacturing organisation, Make UK, with the aim of recognising and celebrating the best in the manufacturing industry. The Apprentice Endeavour Award is designed to champion the up and coming talents of the industry and celebrate their commitment and progress building careers in industry.

Jamie, 19, from Porth, initially joined Coleg y Cymoedd to study engineering where his keen interest in machining gained him an apprenticeship with Llantrisant based company, FSG Tool and Die. Having spent three years at the college’s Rhondda and Nantgarw campuses, he has now obtained his Level 2 and Level VRQ diploma in Engineering. However, his journey was not a smooth one, having struggled to settle in with his studies due to the challenges of ADHD.

Talking about his experience and the challenges he’d had to overcome during his studies, Jamie said: “I had a hard time during my studies initially and it was quite a dark time for me. Recently, I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, which means that I find it more difficult than others to stay focused in class.”

Despite the hurdles he faced in achieving his qualifications, Jamie showed his perseverance and is set to complete his apprenticeship next year. His hard work and perseverance to gain his diplomas in engineering did not go unnoticed by the team at FSG Tool and Die, who nominated him for the Apprentice Endeavour Award.

Jamie added: “Winning the award came as a shock to me as I wasn’t expecting it at all. However, I’m really happy to have been given an award that recognises and appreciates the hard work I’ve put in. Coleg y Cymoedd and FSG Tool and Die have been incredibly supportive, and I’m eager to keep on developing my skills and knowledge in engineering.”

Jamie’s achievement has also been praised by his tutors at Coleg y Cymoedd. Matthew Wilmington, Engineering tutor at the college’s Nantgarw campus, said: “Jamie studied in our Nantgarw campus for his final year, where he took a little time to settle into his new surroundings. However, he continued to work hard and was always active and positive in classroom and workshop discussions.

“Myself and Jamie’s other tutors are very proud of him for such an amazing achievement. It truly does show what hard work can achieve.”

As a regional Apprentice Endeavour Award winner, Jamie has progressed to the national round of the Make UK Manufacturing Awards 2020 where he hopes to bring home a national winning title set to be announced early next year.

Beauty Therapy learner gets a head-start in industry training

Beauty Therapy learner, Bethan Cutler, has become the first at Coleg y Cymoedd to secure a national award from the global cosmetics giant, Dermalogica.    

Launched in October, Dermalogica’s Aspire Award rewards learners who have made a commitment to undertake a series of industry relevant and skills focused workshops, each designed by skincare experts to keep professionals ahead of the everchanging landscape of the beauty therapy industry.

As a Dermalogica partner, Coleg y Cymoedd ensures it has access to the most up-to-date training to ready learners for work in the industry. The Aspire Award is only offered to learners who have a strong existing knowledge in beauty therapy and who have completed the Level 2 Beauty Therapy course.

Learners are required to complete four 60-minute Partnership Programme workshops, covering key topics such as Pressure Point Touch Therapy and Facemapping. Delivered by experienced skin care experts and educators via Dermalogica’s online learning platform, learners are provided with valuable industry insight, as well as critical Health and Safety protocols, effective skin analysation and application techniques, and appropriate pre- and post-treatment care.

Bethan Cutler, who is currently studying the Level 3 Beauty Therapy Course, became the first in her cohort to complete the workshops and receive the Aspire Award.

After receiving the Award, Bethan said: “Obtaining the Aspire Award has been so beneficial to my learning. I really enjoyed building on my product knowledge, retailing techniques, and understanding topics we don’t get to learn in much depth in the course.

“As a leading brand in professional skincare, completing the Dermalogica workshops has put me one step ahead in my career, and I am eager to achieve the rest of the certifications in the Partnership Programme.”

Upon receiving the award, learners are able to progress and complete further Enhanced Employability training and obtain Ready to Work certification. Completing this training ensures that learners are given improved employability prospects while building confidence, consolidating critical skin therapy skills, and strengthening retailing knowledge.

The launch of the new Dermalogica online workshops coincides with a recent demand for digital based learning. As the beauty therapy industry faces new challenges in delivering remote client services in line with Covid-19 social distancing measures, the online learning platform aims to overcome these hurdles.

Nicola Davies, a lecturer for the Beauty Therapy course, said: “The Dermalogica workshops have been a fantastic way for learners to supplement their learning alongside the curriculum. With the difficulty in conducting in-person client services in recent times, learners receive the latest training on new beauty therapy methods that weren’t the norm before, such as in virtual skin services.

“Achieving the Aspire Award provides a way for dedicated learners like Bethan to develop their skills and knowledge of the industry remotely, and also gives them a competitive edge in future employment.”

Tyred of faulty gears? College launches new bike maintenance course for vocational learners

Coleg y Cymoedd’s School of Vocational Access has launched a brand-new bike maintenance scheme to help staff and learners with any bike-related issues they may be having.

The course, which has been introduced in response to growing numbers of staff and learners cycling to college, will see three vocational learners develop skills in bike maintenance and then offer out their services on a voluntary basis.

As part of the programme, staff and learners will be able to bring in their bikes to the Nantgarw campus where the learners, assisted by Vocational Access support staff member and keen bike enthusiast, Andrew Robinson, will be on hand to help fix any issues. They will be able to provide a range of general bike maintenance services from lubricating chains to checking for faulty gears, brakes, handlebars, and moving parts.

The three learners involved in the scheme, Kai John Ward, Chad Davies, and David Evans are all completing the course as part of the skills and volunteering section of the Duke of Edinburgh award. With Covid restrictions making many volunteering opportunities difficult, Valerie Smith, Duke of Edinburgh co-ordinator and leader, created the bike maintenance course with support from Head of School Al Lewis as a way for learners to fulfil this element of the award while developing valuable skills.

The launch of the course comes as Coleg y Cymoedd continues to encourage members of the college community to cycle to campus. It has unveiled a dedicated cycle to work scheme for staff, supported by Cycle Solutions. As part of the initiative, staff will receive financial support to purchase a new bike with Cycle Solutions subsidising a percentage of the cost

The move coincides with the Welsh Government’s Active Travel initiative which aims to encourage individuals to undertake more ‘Active Travel’ through walking and cycling to improve their health and mental wellbeing while providing benefits to the environment.

Valerie Smith, lecturer at Coleg y Cymoedd’s School of Vocational Access, said: “With more staff and learners choosing to cycle to college, our bike maintenance course could not have come at a better time.  Having on-site maintenance services will be invaluable for the cyclists within our college.

“The course will also provide benefits to the three learners directly involved, helping them develop a new vocational skill as well as important life skills. It will make them feel that they are contributing something positive to the wider college community. We hope that the course can continue to grow to become an ongoing programme that more learners can take part in”.

Kai John Ward, 16, one of the learners involved in the course said: “I’m really enjoying bike maintenance so far. It’s great that we’ve been given the opportunity to take part in hands on practical work that can teach us helpful new skills outside of the classroom environment”.

The bike maintenance workshops will be open Wednesdays between 11am to 1pm at the Nantgarw campus and will run for the next six months. Maintenance will be available for both adult and children’s bikes from staff or learners. As only three bikes can be looked at a time, if you are interested, please contact Valerie Smith at


Independent maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) company, Caerdav, has launched a new apprenticeship scheme, designed to offer candidates an exciting opportunity to embark on a specialist career as an aircraft maintenance technician.

Partnering with Coleg y Cymoedd – which has four campuses in South Wales – the Level 3 Aircraft Maintenance Apprenticeship Programme is a three-year course that encompasses both classroom study and hands-on work at Caerdav’s modern MRO facility at St. Athan.

Joachim Jones, Group CEO at Caerdav, says: “Investing in the future has never been so important; we are excited to offer the next generation of aircraft technicians an entry point into our challenging and rewarding industry.

“Coleg y Cymoedd has a proven track record in delivering the Level 3 apprenticeship programme with other global aviation organisations, and we look forward to working closely with them to develop a world class apprenticeship initiative of our own.”

Applications for the course will begin in January 2021, with Caerdav initially looking to recruit 10 aviation engineering enthusiasts to begin the course in September. The first year of the three-year course will be based entirely in the classroom, year two will involve shift work at Caerdav and one day at the college, with the final year working full-time at St. Athan.

David Howells, Head of Computing and Engineering at Coleg y Cymoedd, says: “The college is excited to partner with Caerdav on this amazing opportunity to develop young talent in the aviation sector. It is great to see such a commitment to the next generation of aircraft technicians.  We look forward to welcoming our new intake next September.”

Successful candidates will be given the opportunity to learn their new trade alongside Caerdav’s skilled and experienced workforce, earning a competitive salary as they begin their career in aircraft maintenance.

College awarded for driving change in young carer support

Coleg y Cymoedd has received a national award in recognition of its outstanding work supporting young carers.

The college has been awarded the Carers Federation ‘Quality Standard in Carer Support’ (QSCS) accreditation which recognises organisations that have gone the extra mile to support carers.

The achievement is the latest in a string of accolades received by the college for its work with young carers, adding to the bronze and silver Young Carers College awards it received from Rhondda Cynon Taf Young Carers’ Service earlier this year.

Developed by carers for carers, the QSCS accreditation looks to reward organisations that are not only helping to raise awareness of the issues faced by carers, but also actively working towards removing these barriers by developing appropriate policies to help them improve their access to support.

Coleg y Cymoedd received the award thanks to its pro-active work identifying and supporting learners at college who have caring duties. The college has introduced a number of measures to help ease the pressures on them including making adjustments to courses and promoting flexible working to accommodate their needs and allow for any required time off to conduct care responsibilities. The college also offers financial support to young carers, contributing towards transport costs as well as providing free meals.

The Carers Federation also commended Coleg y Cymoedd for its efforts in providing extra guidance to these learners and offering them a listening ear when they need one. Each learner receives a tailored individual support plan and staff are on hand to support their mental health and wellbeing.

The college has implemented these changes as part of the Carers Federation ‘Driving Change Programme’ which aims to improve the support that young adult carers receive in further education, ensuring that systems are in place to enable them to succeed in their studies.

Laura Wilson, Welfare and Wellbeing Officer and Carers Champion at Coleg y Cymoedd said: “It can be extremely challenging for young and adult carers to juggle the responsibilities of being a carer with their studies. The practical and emotional implications of a caring role can be stressful and demanding meaning many carers end up neglecting their own needs.

“The result is that carers all too often struggle with their mental health and are likely to disengage with their education or employment as it all becomes too much.”

Research shows that young carers are three times more likely to be not in education, employment, or training (NEET) compared to other young people, and five times more likely to drop out of college due to the difficulties they experience balancing their carer duties and education.

Alisha Morgan, 20, a learner and young carer at the college who was involved in developing the project, said: “I am really thankful for the support I receive at college. My tutors support and encourage me with my learning and understand when I am tired and feel like giving up. I am able to have a flexible timetable, financial help and a dedicated Carers’ Champion who is there to talk to whenever I need it.

“Obtaining the QSCS accreditation has been really beneficial in raising awareness of young carers at the college. It recognises the work that Coleg y Cymoedd has done to amplify the voice of young carers and in helping us achieve our qualifications.”

The Carers Federation believes that by understanding the needs of young carers and putting better support and provisions in place, their experiences of education can be improved, resulting in increased retention, attendance and achievement rates.

Laura added: “It is important to us that all learners at the college are supported to fulfil their potential. It can be difficult for learners who have caring roles to complete their college studies alongside their caring responsibilities, but we firmly believe that this should not hold them back from being able to complete their qualifications.

“My goal is to make education accessible for all young carers and to work with the college to ensure that support mechanisms are in place to help these learners thrive in education and achieve success.”

Coleg y Cymoedd worked closely with the Carers Federation to improve its best practice for young adult carers and achieve the accreditation. The Carers Federation reviewed the college’s existing policies and provided a tailored support package with recommended goals, collaborating with staff to achieve these.


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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