Celebrate Career Development Month with us and get to know some of the people that make Coleg y Cymoedd so great!

As the third largest employer in Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf, we work hard to make sure our employees feel valued, empowered, and that their skills are always up-to-date.

Discover our Senior Business Partner, Morgan Evans’ journey since joining us in 2022.

Tell us a bit about your Coleg y Cymoedd journey

I joined Coleg y Cymoedd in January 2022 as a Business Partner in the People & Culture team. Since then, I have been lucky enough to take on a range of CPD activities that have helped with both my personal and professional development.

In January 2023, I was fortunate enough to be named a Senior Business Partner, which would not have been possible without the fantastic CPD I have been exposed to and the support of my manager.

Could you go into more detail about the career development opportunities you accessed?

Of course – being relatively new to the ‘people profession’, I was grateful to be provided with a range of support from all levels. The college encourages us to complete CPD and share our experiences of completed training with others.

I’ve been fortunate enough to study my Level 5 CIPD with the support of the college. I have also been able to complete CPD on Employment Law as well as being able to attend the annual CIPD conference and the CIPD Festival of Work.

Not only this, but the college also funded my training to become a Workplace Mediator, as well as regular coaching sessions with an external coach.

Have you been able to access other forms of support during this time?

100%! In addition to formal CPD opportunities, we have a range of experienced members of staff who are also available to learn from, in addition to using mentors to support those who are new to role.

And we’re looking to encourage more of this across the college. We’ve developed a host of exciting internal training programmes for those in search of future career progression which has been really well received. We have a number of exciting learning and development initiatives planned for this academic year to help further the development support we can offer our staff.

That’s great to hear. What is the best CPD opportunity that you have accessed since joining the college?

It was by far studying my Level 5 CIPD. The CIPD qualification is nationally recognised and has massively helped me expand my knowledge of the ‘people profession’ and how I can help our managers to better support their employees.

I have been released for my daily roles to under take my studies and with the support of my manager and tutor, I have nearly completed and gained my qualification. It’s nice to know that the college’s commitment to my development will see me gain a qualification that can benefit me not only in the college, but outside.

I am very grateful to the college for the opportunity to study my CIPD and the support they provided in allowing me to do so.

How has your own personal development tracked and your career goals honoured as a Coleg y Cymoedd employee?

It is evident that the college places a high emphasis on staff development. This is reflected in the fantastic training opportunities afforded to all staff. All staff are expected to complete a minimum of 30 hours CPD per year, again further cementing the college’s dedication to staff development. We each have performance reviews where we discuss personal goals for the upcoming year, and regular 1:1 sessions are held by managers to support the staff member however often they feel they need it.

The college holds regular staff-wide Inset days with an emphasis on the themes that impact Further Education; our most recent one took place earlier this month on key themes such as equality, diversity and inclusion as well as employee wellbeing.

I frequently have conversations with my line manager regarding development opportunities, whether that be past or future training that I have completed. My manager is committed in supporting me with my development goals and encourages me to use a blended learning approach to further my personal and professional capabilities.

In your opinion, what is the best part of being a Coleg y Cymoedd employee?

What a question! Everything!

I am blessed to work for an organisation that places such a high emphasis on employee wellbeing, staff development, equality, diversity, inclusion – you name it – the organisation does it!

Since joining Coleg y Cymoedd, there has not been a day that I have questioned my decision to join the organisation.

All members of senior management are approachable, and my opinion is regularly asked for when making decisions which makes me feel very valued. The college has a range of wellbeing initiatives in place to support its staff and I feel that in my role, I make a real difference to the working lives of my co-workers.

Is there anything else that you would like to share about career development in Coleg y Cymoedd?

When joining Coleg y Cymoedd, I was new to both the public sector and the people profession and I credit my achievement to the support I have received from Coleg y Cymoedd.

They have heavily invested in my development which saw me gain a new position within 12 months. They have been fantastic in supporting my development, providing me with great opportunities and supplying a great place to work.

Browse current vacancies at Coleg y Cymoedd: www.cymoedd.ac.uk/careers

UN Ambassador, Sacha Dench, headlines launch of Coleg y Cymoedd’s and Conservation without Borders’ Conference of Possibilities

On Friday, 17th November 2023, Coleg y Cymoedd opened the doors of its Nantgarw campus to prominent figures spearheading the charge for sustainability. 60 conservation-conscious students gathered for the day-long symposium setting them up to make their mark as the future green workforce of Wales.

The list of industry-leading guest speakers included keynote speaker, UN Ambassador for Migratory Species and Adventurer, Sacha Dench, nature TV presenter, Iolo Williams, Câr-y-Môr co-founder, Francois Beyers, and mentor and impact specialist, Andy Middleton, who inspired attendees by sharing their personal journeys as entrepreneurs in the field of sustainability.

Through their environmental engagement sessions, the team of mentors encouraged students to develop a curiosity about what is possible so that they can make sustainable changes that matter.

In the afternoon’s workshop, ‘Your Personal Compass’, students questioned what sustainability means to them. With the motivation of their mentors, they worked in groups to pinpoint the actions they could take to make a difference in their college and community.

The range of practical, real-world advice shared meant that learners studying courses from Engineering to Creative Industries could each apply what they learned to their daily lives and studies, preparing them for ‘incredible futures’ in higher education, employment and beyond.

Developed in partnership with Conservation without Borders and Wild Connect, Cymoedd’s Conference of Possibilities established a relationship between mentors and students which will continue throughout the academic year. The mentorships are essential in creating opportunities for the young people to achieve their potential in line with Welsh Government’s Net Zero Skills Action Plan.

Speaking of the impact of the Conference of Possibilities, and what this means for Welsh industry, Partnership Development and Innovation Coordinator, Alistair Aston, said:

“The idea of how to tackle something a big as the current climate crisis can seem impossible to navigate as an individual.

Working with Sacha and her team of environmental mentors at the ‘Conference of Possibilities’ has really empowered both students and staff at Coleg y Cymoedd to re-engage with nature and explore the opportunities that exist within the green economy and the workforce of the future.”

Coleg y Cymoedd one of the first in Wales to be awarded Quality Standard for their support towards Young Carers

Coleg y Cymoedd has successfully secured a Quality Standard Accreditation in Carer Support, an honour specially developed by carers to recognise the highest level of commitment that an organisation can give to supporting Young Adult Carers.

Named as one of just two educational institutions in Wales, Cymoedd is extremely proud to have received this distinction.

The largest FE provider in Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taff, the college has proactively identified students with caring roles and created support for them. In turn, this has helped improve course retention and boosted morale to help maximise opportunity.

The college marked the award in a special ceremony at its Nantgarw campus this week. Keynote speaker, Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan MS, delivered her congratulations to the college’s Wellbeing and Safeguarding Team, whilst the Young Carers in attendance applauded testimonials from former students and Young Carers, Jay Lee Jenkins, Alisha Morgan, and Rosie Adams, who became one of the first Young Carers from Coleg y Cymoedd to successfully gain a university place earlier this year.

The accolade comes as Cymoedd has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to supporting Young Adult Carers with a uniformed provision with a localised focus across each of its four campuses to meet the different needs of students.

This includes initiatives to support ongoing development and improvements such as the Young Carer Award, offering transitional support into Higher Education, training or employment and additional support out of term time.

When confirming the college’s award, QSCS Assessor, Naomi Sykes said: “Coleg y Cymoedd staff, particularly […] the Wellbeing Team, show recognition and respect toward the achievements of students with caring responsibilities in overcoming the challenges and barriers they face.

“They pride themselves on offering a reactive and responsive service to meet individual students’ changing need. The college has shown innovative thinking in developing support, including its annual Young Carer Award and the aim to introduce a Multi-Site Financial Wellbeing Advisor, [and] there is a focus on Widening Participation and Community Involvement evidenced in the college’s partnerships with carers services and HE providers.”

Head of Wellbeing and Safeguarding, Joel Price said: “We are delighted that our support of Young Adult Carers has been recognised in the QSQC Award.

It’s a confirmation that Coleg y Cymoedd are practicing great initiatives and are leading the way when it comes to support for Young Adult Carers not only in the surrounding areas, but in Wales as a whole.

We have come so far in the past few years and will continue to push for higher standards of provision for Young Carers to raise awareness of their role and how much they can achieve with the right support.

I’d like to take the opportunity to congratulate our Wellbeing Team and to thank them for the careful care and attention that they have put into improving the experience of our Young Carer students in college and beyond. And also, to thank our partners in RCT and Caerphilly Young Carers who we work so well with. We wouldn’t have been able to have come this far without them.

As the population of Young Carers in Rhondda Cynon Taf and Caerphilly gets higher, provisions for Young Carers need to evolve too. We owe it to them. They don’t get enough time for themselves.

This award is a celebration of the remarkable, resilient young people that we get the privilege to work with every day.”

Find out more about Coleg y Cymoedd’s commitment to Wellbeing and Safeguarding, here: https://www.cymoedd.ac.uk/learner-support/welfare-wellbeing/

Coleg y Cymoedd awarded £3.4m by Westminster for new maths scheme

A leading college in the South Wales valleys has been awarded £3.4m by the UK government to run free adult maths and numeracy classes across Rhondda Cynon Taf and Caerphilly.

From November 2023 to March 2025, Coleg y Cymoedd will provide sessions for anyone over the age of 19 who does not currently have a maths GCSE to support them to acquire a selection of numeracy qualifications.

The funding, part of Westminster’s ‘Multiply’ programme which aims to improve adults’ maths skills, will be made available across the college’s Aberdare, Rhondda, Ystrad Mynach, and Nantgarw campuses as well as at various locations across both boroughs including community facilities.

A selection of courses will be offered in both English and Welsh including essential skills in numeracy, GCSE Maths, and online numeracy. Each course will be tailored to learner’s skill levels and abilities, with a mix of face to face and online support provided.

Coleg y Cymoedd has partnered with a number of organisations including Adult Learning Wales, Equal Education Partners, Bridgend College and Coleg Gwent, to engage with communities who may have previously struggled with access to further education. It has also collaborated with n-ergy, a vocational training and employment support organisation, to offer tailored courses for recent prison leavers and those soon to be released to help them gain qualifications and support their employment.

Matthew Tucker, Assistant Principal at Coleg y Cymoed said: “Maths and numeracy are such important skills to have, both on an everyday personal level, but also when it comes to furthering one’s education or gaining employment, so we’re delighted to be working with Rhondda and Caerphilly Council to offer free and flexible courses to the local communities across both counties over the next two years.

“It’s essential for us that we cater to as many different people who want to learn and improve their maths and numeracy skills, which is why we are offering a range of locations to make these courses as accessible as possible.

“The Multiply programme aims to boost learners’ confidence, helping them on the first steps towards formal numeracy qualifications, whether that’s so they can gain new job opportunities, help them calculate their finances, assist their children with their homework or prepare them for future study.”

Learners can register their interest at: https://www.cymoedd.ac.uk/employers/multiply-2/

Pathway to success: Coleg y Cymoedd selected for exclusive programme offered by Oxford University

18 of Coleg y Cymoedd’s A-Level students have been chosen to participate in New College’s (Oxford University) Step-Up Programme, an outreach scheme designed to inspire and support state-school students through Years 12 and 13.

This term, the participating AS-Level students will commence the two-year programme which aims for students to recognise Oxford as a realistic and achievable university option. As well as this, the scheme will ensure the students are equipped with the necessary tools and support to make a competitive Oxbridge application.

Oxford’s Shelby Holmes paid a visit to Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw-based A-Level Centre in October to deliver an introductory session. As a sustained-contact scheme, the participating students will continue to have regular contact with the university’s Outreach team following the visit.

New College’s Step-Up Programme runs throughout the full two years of A-Level study and is structured as follows:

Introduction

This step introduces the Step-Up programme and give students a firm understanding of what university is, what the benefits of university are, and why Oxford is a little bit different.

Visit to New College

This step involves a visit to New College, Oxford University in the spring term. Students get a tour of the College and have their chance to ask questions to current undergraduates.

Application Process

This step is all about understanding the application process from start to finish. Students will get a sense of what is expected from successful candidates.

Personal Statements

This step focuses on Personal Statement writing and happens in the summer of Year 12.

Interview Practice (Optional)

If Step-Up students have been invited to interview, there is a further step available focusing on Oxford and Cambridge interview preparation.

The Step-Up Programme is one of many widening-access schemes that Coleg y Cymoedd’s A-Level Centre has introduced, encouraging high-achieving learners from state schools to apply for top universities.

This most recent partnership comes after the college saw its best exam results ever in academic year 2022/2023, with record-breaking Oxbridge places and an increase of 24.1% in A*/A grades compared with pre-pandemic external exam results in 2019.

“Initiatives such as the Step-Up Programme open up a world of opportunity for our students,” said Holly Richards, MAT Co-ordinator for A Levels at Coleg y Cymoedd.

“Education should never be restricted by one’s postcode or economic circumstances. This opportunity allows us to bridge the gap between aspiration and achievement. We are immensely proud to be part of this life-changing journey.”

Find out more about A-Levels at Coleg y Cymoedd at the last Open Event of 2023: www.cymoedd.ac.uk/open

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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