They won! Coleg y Cymoedd’s Giant Rhino Mascot Leads African Football Tournament to BBC Green Sport Award

African amateur football league, Rhino Cup Champions League, have been nominated for Grassroots Organisation of the Year at the BBC’s Green Sport Awards, 2023.

Joining in the nomination celebrations are Coleg y Cymoedd’s Creative Industries department, who developed the League’s rhino mascot, ‘Davey’, to educate and entertain thousands of children during the cup’s 2022 season.

In its Green Sport Awards, BBC Sport celebrates the good news – the athletes, former athletes and organisations working hard to enact and inspire change.

Rhino Cup Champions League was nominated for ‘its impactful work in using the popularity of football to help local communities feel better connected to wildlife conservation and learn about the impacts of climate change’. [The league] is used ‘as a vehicle to inspire and empower participants to actively engage in the conservation cause.’

At the heart of this project is Davey, the Rhino mascot created by Coleg y Cymoedd’s Creative Industries department and Wild Connect, who helped to engage thousands of children across Africa in this critical cause.

Creative learners spent six months tirelessly developing the six-foot rhino to kick off the 2022 Rhino Cup Champions League and educate rural Africa on the horrors of rhino poaching. The mascot was flown out to Mozambique to lead the campaign and through the course of the season has seen whole villages brought together.

Founded in 2016 by animal charity, the Wild and Free Foundation, which works to protect wildlife and habitats in Africa, the Rhino Cup Champions League was created after representatives from the foundation travelled to rural villages in Mozambique, where a high percentage of young men were being arrested or killed after being involved in poaching rhinos.

With these villages bordering the Kruger National Park – home to 85% of Africa’s rhinos – the charity wanted to find out directly from the villagers what could be done to prevent poaching. Following feedback from the community members, the charity organised the football league to keep the men of the villages busy and motivated.

Since the Rhino Cup Champions League was introduced, the villages in Mozambique have seen a dramatic reduction in the number of deaths and arrests of young men due to rhino poaching, decreased school dropouts and teen pregnancies.

With over 90,000 football game spectators between 2019 and 2022, entire communities been uplifted through the skills and job opportunities and friendships created through the League.

Delighted at the news of the League’s recognition, Alistair Aston, Prop Making Lead at Coleg y Cymoedd commented: “We’re so proud to have contributed to such an important cause. Our aim was for the mascot to used as a fun, educational tool, helping rhinos appear less aggressive in the eyes of the local communities.

‘Davey’ the Giant Rhino from the Welsh valleys now serves as a symbol of the League’s mission to raise awareness about rhino conservation and protect its species from extinction. We wish all the best to the Rhino Cup Champions League with this incredible recognition.”BBC Green Sport Awards winners will be announced via the BBC Sport website on Monday, 2nd October.

Update: Tuesday, 3rd October 2023

The winner of BBC Green Sport Awards Grassroots Organisation Award 2023 is Rhino Cup Champions League.

The nominations committee said: “The Rhino Cup Champions League is a very different approach at raising sustainability awareness, but it is a very successful one. It has already grown as a competition to a football league brought to you by your local rhinoceros.”

Rhino Cup Champions League co-founder, Matt Bracken, commented: “The Rhino Cup Champions League came from asking: ‘How can we help stop young men from going into the wildlife reserve and risking their lives and the lives of animals to kill that animal for profit?’ It is a football league brought to you by your local rhinoceros – and that is bringing so much. It’s bringing compassion, happiness, hope and love. It was the communities’ idea and that’s why it’s a success.”

Coleg y Cymoedd would like to extend their congratulations to the Rhino Cup Champions League.

To explore Creative Industries courses at Coleg y Cymoedd, visit: www.cymoedd.ac.uk

Coleg y Cymoedd and University of South Wales unveil Wales’ first railway engineering degree apprenticeship

Coleg y Cymoedd and University of South Wales will offer the first railway engineering degree apprenticeships in Wales.

Approved by the Welsh Government and run in conjunction with Nantgarw-based Coleg y Cymoedd, the four-year courses will give apprentices operating in the rail sector the opportunity to gain a university-accredited engineering degree.

Starting in January 2024, then annually from September next year, students on the two Degree Apprenticeship Railway Engineering courses will focus on either civil engineering and rail track development, such as permanent way infrastructure; or electro-mechanical systems and electronics, supporting electrification and rolling stock maintenance. Studying part of the course at Coleg y Cymoedd and then the rest at USW, the successful students will gain a Bachelor of Sciences degree.

Louise Pennell, who is Associate Dean of Partnerships and Development in USW’s Faculty of Computing, Engineering, and Science, said the course has been developed to meet the specific requirements of the railway industry across Wales and the UK, as projects such as the South Wales Metro are developed to address the need for sustainable and reliable public transport systems.

“Over the past few years we have worked with a variety of rail industry partners, Industry Wales, and the Welsh Government to address the need for a railway engineering education pathway in Wales, as previously there was no such qualification offered here,” Mrs Pennell said.

“After Industry Wales asked companies operating in the railway sector what knowledge, skills, and higher-level behaviours industry required from their employees and potential graduates, the pathway was put together and approved by the Welsh Government.

“At USW we have a sector-leading engineering department which has extensive expertise in developing work-based learning programmes in a variety of sectors, and are experts in managing degree apprenticeship across a number of specialisms.

“As we are leading on this degree apprenticeship, both employers and those taking the courses are guaranteed access to the most up-to-date knowledge and facilities available to the industry in Wales.”

Matthew Tucker, Assistant Principal Business Services at Coleg y Cymoedd said: “Coleg y Cymoedd is absolutely delighted to partner with USW for this first-of-its-kind in Wales railway engineering degree apprenticeship. Students on this programme will be studying in sector-leading facilities through our established specialist railway training centre at Coleg y Cymoedd Nantgarw campus.”

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Rail is a growth sector for Wales and this new pathway will help create a pipeline of talent with the right skills to see the industry prosper, creating more opportunities for highly skilled and well-paid careers.

“Degree apprenticeships have an important role to play in an education and skills system which is building the workforce for the now and the future. This new course links better transport with better jobs, helping more young people plan ambitious futures in Wales.”

More details of the course are available at https://www.cymoedd.ac.uk/apprenticeships-2/

Career search lands Tonypandy’s Josh with dream job at Google

A former college learner from the valleys has used his music technology skills to sound out a dream career with tech giant Google, after initially registering for a carpentry course when he left school.

Coleg y Cymoedd alumni, Josh Wigley-Iles, now 35, is an AV (audio-visual) technician at Google in London, regularly named one of the best places to work in the world and is set to be based at its newest headquarters in Kings Cross – a horizontal skyscraper, dubbed the ‘landscraper’, boasting staff perks including a basketball court, rooftop exercise trail and over 40 nap pods.

Josh’s high-tech career trajectory began at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw campus when he was 16 and had signed up for a carpentry course. After an off-chance mention of a love for music to the college receptionist, he was shown around the then brand-new music technology department and jumped at the chance to switch to a three-year diploma in music technology there, combining his hands-on skills and passions.

After spending three years learning about the music industry and exploring how some of his favourite bands made their music, Josh graduated with a Merit and was offered a part time position at Coleg y Cymoedd as an AV technician in its brand-new recording studio.

Speaking about his career path from college music tech to Google AV expert, Josh said:

“I loved working with the college. It felt like a family because I had been there for so long studying – the tutors trusted me and knew I was capable and passionate about the work. It was a great introduction into a job in the industry.”

Three years later, on his 21st birthday, Josh applied for a position as a general technician on Disney Cruise Ships. After a long process of interviews, medical screenings and working visa applications, Josh set sail, later being promoted to theatre technician where he worked on all the productions in the ship’s main theatre. While travelling the world as part of his role, from the Bahamas and Caribbean to the Mediterranean and the transatlantic crossing, Josh also met his wife, Leanne.

Following his stint at Disney, Josh then worked at Chessington World of Adventures as an entertainment audio technician, before making the move to London to further his career, gaining a position at QE2, one of the biggest conference centres in the UK where he worked on high profile, technically intricate productions for the likes of royalty and political parties.

Two years later Josh landed his dream job with Astraya where he was contracted to Google’s Tottenham Court Road HQ as a senior AV technician. He is now in line to be reassigned to the new premises, set to open in 2024, managing AV maintenance at the state-of-the-art HQ.

Speaking about working for one of the world’s biggest and best-known companies, Josh said: “I’ve loved working at Google, it really is like how they make it out in the movies, but better. It’s such a laidback, friendly, and innovative atmosphere, I feel I really landed on my feet. They even have a music studio that all staff are free to use in their free time, and I get to go up there to use the guitars and play around on my lunch breaks.

“As soon as we were made aware of the new premises and the need for three technicians, I threw my hat in the ring. My career has been exciting from the get-go, but working at Google has been the cherry on top and I’m excited to see where this new opportunity will take me.”

Josh’s opportunity comes as Coleg y Cymoedd celebrates its 10-year anniversary, with the college investing over £xxm since 2013 in its teaching and learning facilities across its campuses in Aberdare, Nantgarw, Rhondda and Ystrad Mynach.

He said: “It sounds cliché, but I do owe so much of my career to my tutors at Coleg y Cymoedd. They supported me, pushed me to do the things I’m passionate about, employed me and have also been a constant cheerleader for me. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am now – I’ll always be eternally grateful for the time I spent there, as a learner and as an employee.”

Visit Coleg y Cymoedd’s YouTube channel for the full video and subscribe for more life-changing #cyc10 stories.

Cymoedd learners awarded ‘The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales’ Award

Two Cymoedd learners from the A-Level Centre have received The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales Award in recognition of their outstanding academic achievements.

The college was delighted to welcome Mr. Geoff Hughes, Past Master of The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales, accompanied by Liveryman, Miss Margaret Davies, to the Nantgarw campus to present the Award and a cheque for £125 for learners Carys Lewis and Jacob Jones.

Both Carys and Jacob studied at the college’s A-Level Centre, achieving impressive grades.

Carys achieved three A* grades in Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics, securing her place to study Chemistry at Oxford University’s Exeter College.

Meanwhile, Jacob achieved four A* grades in Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Further Mathematics and will be studying Physics at Oxford University’s Jesus College.

Presenting the Award, Mr. Geoff Hughes, congratulated both Carys and Jacob on their A-Level results and on securing a place at Oxford University. He explained one of the primary aims of The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales is to promote education in Wales and the ‘Schools Awards’ provide the opportunity to recognise learners who have achieved outstanding results.

Commenting on their achievements and the Award, Jonathan Morgan, Principal, said, “We are so proud of Carys and Jacob. This is a great achievement for them, and I know that they have worked hard to achieve the grades required by Oxford. We wish them every success for the future and I’m sure, given their commitment, they will achieve their ambitions. I hope that they will both stay in touch with the college to inspire future learners. I would like to thank The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales; we are grateful for their continued support of Cymoedd learners and I’m sure they would agree – Carys and Jacob are worthy recipients of the Award”.

Coleg y Cymoedd plumbing apprentice is named best young plumber in UK and third best in Europe at international Awards ceremony

An award-winning young plumber from Blackwood has just returned from Poland where he represented the UK in a renowned international competition competing against national teams from over 32 countries.

21-year-old Coleg y Cymoedd apprentice, Ruben Duggan, was selected to compete in the plumbing category of the EuroSkills 2023 competition, which took place in Gdańsk, Poland, on 5th September.

After battling through an intense two days of competition, Ruben placed third in his category, making him not only the best young plumber in the UK, but now the third best young plumber in the whole of Europe.

In its eighth year, EuroSkills is the biggest vocational education and skills contest in Europe. Held every two years, the competition sees hundreds of young people, under the age of 25, from across the continent compete for the chance to become the best in Europe in their chosen skill. 43 skills are covered at the event, which are grouped into six industry sectors including manufacturing, construction, IT, and the service industry.

Ruben, who was the only person to represent Team UK in the plumbing category, competed in a range of challenges over two days.  He spent the last six months preparing for the competition, travelling to Northern Ireland every month to train alongside the second member of the UK longsquad and his mentor, who are both based in Newry, as well as spending a full week in Germany to learn about the specific European standard equipment he used during the competition.

This is not his only skills competition success, as Ruben has also been selected to be a part of UK longsquad for the global WorldSkills, otherwise known as the ‘skills Olympics’, taking place in Lyon next year, where he will have the opportunity to compete against national teams from over 80 countries.

The talented tradesman, who is in the final year of a level 3 plumbing and heating apprentice at Coleg y Cymoedd, is no stranger to competitive environments, having been involved in multiple competitions during his time at college including the 2022 HIP Apprentice of the Year competition, where he came first place.

“I’m really chuffed to have represented the UK in my trade at this year’s EuroSkills. Not only is the chance to compete in an amazing competition itself, but so is all the travelling I’ve been able to do as a result of being involved in this competition. I’ve loved visiting Northern Ireland and Germany and I’m really excited to see Gdańsk as I’ve never been to Poland before.

“Competing in EuroSkills is a huge string to my bow. To get a medallion of excellence is a huge win for me. If I also make it to the team for WorldSkills next year and end up going to Lyon, that will just be the cherry on top of an already awesome experience, both personally and professionally!”

Back in May, contestants in the plumbing category were provided with a drawing of the room where they will need to carry out a selection of different plumbing and heating challenges, such as fitting boilers, sinks, radiators, and showers. On the first day of the competition, 30% of the original drawing plan will be changed, leaving Ruben to lean on his own knowledge and skills to finish the tasks.

Coming from a family of plumbers, with his father owning a Caerphilly based plumbing and heating business, Powerserv LTD, Ruben always knew he wanted to work in the industry.

After finishing his GCSEs, Ruben started working for Poweserv and applied for an apprenticeship at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Ystrad Mynach Campus. Despite being held back an extra year due to the pandemic, Ruben has gone from strength to strength during his time at college and his success in competitions has helped him to make a name for himself in the industry.

Ruben added: “Ever since I was a young teenager, I’ve been interested in plumbing. I’d work with my dad during the school holidays and loved doing that. I really enjoy being hands on and fixing problems. To me, plumbing is like solving a puzzle – it’s so satisfying when you work it out!

“Studying an apprenticeship at college has been brilliant. It’s helped me to hone my craft as I have not only learnt from really talented and experienced tutors, but I’ve also gained great experience from all the amazing competitions they’ve encouraged me to enter. Taking part in them as allowed me to meet so many people in the industry and the tasks in the competitions have really developed my skills.”

Ruben’s tutor at Coleg y Cymoedd, Lee Perry, has accompanied Ruben on every stage of his WorldSkills journey: “It’s been a pleasure to work with Ruben and watch him grow as both a plumber and an individual. For him to reach this stage of the competition and to now be named the third best young plumber in the whole of Europe and receive his medal in front of more than 30,000 spectators in Gdańsk is outstanding.”

Ruben is one of six from the UK who won a Medallion for Excellence for achieving world-class standards at EuroSkills 2023. Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education Robert Halfon congratulated the elite team of apprentices and young professionals: “The EuroSkills competitions provide an unparalleled opportunity for gifted young people to hone their skills and climb the ladder of opportunity towards a better and brighter future.

“Their hard work, determination, and dedication have undoubtedly left a mark on the European stage with their achievements not only reflecting their personal commitment to excellence but also highlighting the strength and capabilities of the UK’s skilled workforce.”

Coleg y Cymoedd Commences Year-Long Celebration for 10th Anniversary

Coleg y Cymoedd, one of Wales’ largest further education colleges, is delighted to announce the commencement of a year-long celebration in honour of its 10th anniversary.

Since its establishment in 2013, the college has seen almost 100,000 learners through its doors with four campuses across Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf in Aberdare, Nantgarw, Rhondda (Llwynypia) and Ystrad Mynach.

Offering over 300 vocational, GCSE, A Level and Higher Education courses together with Apprenticeship and Work Based Learning provision Cymoedd has become a leading educational provider in the South Wales region.

Under the visionary leadership of Principal Jonathan Morgan and his dedicated team of staff members – totalling an impressive 850 individuals – Cymoedd has achieved remarkable success.

The college’s commitment to providing quality education is evident not only through its comprehensive course offerings but also through its strong partnerships with over 1,200 employers.

“This milestone marks an incredible journey for us,” said Jonathan Morgan. “In just ten years, we have built an educational institution that empowers students to reach their full potential right here in their local community.”

The commemorative festivities kicked off just before the start of this academic year with celebrations held across all four campuses. Staff members were treated to refreshments while enjoying valuable time catching up with colleagues after a well-deserved summer break.

“This is not simply about imparting knowledge; it is about transforming lives,” explained Morgan passionately. “Our vision goes beyond classroom walls – we believe that by studying locally with us at Coleg y Cymoedd, students can go further than they ever imagined.

Our investment in state-of-the-art facilities and continual training for our staff ensures that our learners receive unparalleled support throughout their educational journey.”

Coleg y Cymoedd’s commitment to excellence is further exemplified by its recent record-breaking results year. With the strongest set of A Level and Level 3 results to date, the college stands at the height of its academic success and looks forward to future achievements.

“Our team of dedicated teaching staff and business support professionals work collaboratively to create a welcoming community where every individual is valued,” added Morgan. “We are proud of our past accomplishments but remain focused on continuously improving our learners’ experiences as we move forward.”

Over the next year, Cymoedd will share stories of its success in a series of inspirational alumni films, a grand opening of a state-of-the-art sports centre at its Nantgarw campus, home to South Wales’ first ever Female Academy, community events each term on it’s campuses and much more.

Follow Cymoedd’s 10-year anniversary celebrations on their social media channels: @colegycymoedd #CYC10

Aberdare

Wellington Street
Aberdare
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF44 8EN

Nantgarw

Heol y Coleg
Parc Nantgarw
Cardiff
CF15 7QY

Rhondda

Llwynypia
Tonypandy
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF40 2TQ

Ystrad Mynach

Twyn Road
Ystrad Mynach
Hengoed
CF82 7XR

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