Cymoedd learner follows her passion

Cymoedd learner Adele Elliott has always had an interest in holistic therapies but working full time and raising a family took priority. After 20 years, in the corporate world, the mother of two from Treorchy decided it was time for her to follow her passion.

Whilst working full time in an office job, she attended an Open Event at the college to find out if her dream job could become a reality. Adele discussed with the tutors her options of studying part time evening courses and her career pathway, on completion of the qualifications.

Impressed with the facilities at the college and the experience of the staff, many who have worked in the sector and owned their own business, Adele enrolled on the VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Reflexology.

She knew that returning to study at 43, whilst working full-time with a family to care for, was going to be a challenge but Adele’s passion helped her through it. She found the one year course, studied over two nights a week interesting as it included all aspects of holistic therapies including Reflexology, Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology.

Adele gained her Level 3 Diploma in June 2019 and is now the proud owner of Cariad Holistic Therapies, based in Treorchy, Rhondda. 

Speaking about her studies Adele said “Coleg y Cymoedd is a fantastic college with amazing tutors. They were so patient and adapted to my individual needs. I am so grateful for my training and I am now following my passion of running my own business as a Reflexologist. It’s never too late to start something new”.

Congratulating Adele on her new venture Course Tutor, Hayley Hunt said “Returning to study after being away from education for some years is never easy, especially when you are juggling full time work and a family. But Adele’s motivation and commitment to achieve her dream of owning her own business was evident during the course. The college is delighted to see her new business, ‘Cariad Holistic Therapies’ and we wish her well for the future. She is an inspiration and proof that if you believe in yourself you can achieve your goal”.

Rugby player turned coffee entrepreneur spills the beans on Rhondda café grand opening

A Cardiff Rugby player has swapped mauls for macchiatos for a day to celebrate the opening of a new café at his former college.

Dillon Lewis, who co-owns speciality coffee shop Fat Dragon Coffee with Cardiff teammate Brad Thyer, will be supplying coffee beans and ground coffee to the brand new Caffi Blodyn Haul on Coleg y Cymoedd’s Rhondda campus.

The Church Village born player was a member of the elite Cardiff Blues Academy at Coleg y Cymoedd from 2012 to 2014 while studying at the college, and the prop has since become an integral fixture for Cardiff and Wales.

On Wednesday, Dillon returned to his roots to show his support for Coleg y Cymoedd’s community of staff and learners with the opening of the brand new         Independent Living Skills (ILS) Coffee Shop.

Dillon said: “Going back to my old college to do my part in getting the new coffee shop up and running is such a rewarding experience.

“My sister has additional learning needs and I know first-hand the challenges learners like her face on a day to day basis. Contributing towards creating a learning environment at Coleg y Cymoedd where learners with additional learning needs can develop their skills and grow their confidence is very near and dear to my heart.”

Dedicated to improving learning provisions for its vocational learners, the café will see learners across the campus take part in running the shop, from serving drinks to selling baked goods freshly made by members of Coleg y Cymoedd’s catering course every weekday from 10 am to 2 pm.

In a collaborative effort with Welsh Government and Colegau Cymru in reshaping the curriculum for learners with Additional Learning Needs, the new space is part of the college’s wider goal to provide a more practical learning experience that readies learners for the world of work and independent living.

Al Lewis, Head of School for Vocational Access at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “Dillon is a great example of a learner who has gone on to achieve so much after college. He’s been a long-time supporter of the college and has always remained a prominent figure in our community.

“We’re excited to have Dillon’s support for the new café and our wider efforts to improve learning experiences at the college for learners present and future. We can’t wait to welcome learners and staff across the college as well as members of the public to the new café”.

Cymoedd Alumnus secures Bronze at Paralympics

Former Cymoedd learner Thomas Matthews secured a Bronze medal at his Paralympic debut in Tokyo, in the Men’s Singles (Class1) Table Tennis competition.

Tom (29) from Cwmbach, Aberdare studied at the Ystrad Mynach campus, where he completed his first year in carpentry.

At the time Tom was a keen sportsman, with an exciting future in mountain biking, but an accident when out riding, left him wheelchair bound.

Whilst undergoing treatment at Rookwood Hospital, he was encouraged to try table tennis and the rest is history! Tom has an impressive list of successful wins, representing GB at Major Championships and in 2017, moved from the GB Pathway Squad to the GB Performance Squad.

Speaking on his success at the Tokyo Games Tom said “It’s been an amazing experience, I’m so proud to have been part of Paralympics GB”.

Adult learner endorses Apprenticeship Programme

Martin Room (58) from Caerphilly cannot speak highly enough of the benefits of studying, whatever your age. At 16 years of age, Martin left Bedwas Comprehensive School and attended The College, Ystrad Mynach, where he achieved a City & Guilds qualification in Bricklaying.

However, with the downturn in the building industry he found himself moving from job to job to support his family, but always remained eager to seek opportunities to further his career within the role.

His latest career move resulted in employment at Pullman Rail where he has worked as a Semi -Skilled Fitter for 7 years. Keen to progress within the organisation he was fortunate when an opportunity arose to apply for the NVQ Level 3 course; he passed the exam and enrolled on the NVQ Level 3 in Rail Engineering, Traction and Rolling Stock.

Speaking about the course Martin said, “Studying through the pandemic posed its own challenges due to the lockdown restrictions but I would definitely recommend Coleg y Cymoedd – despite the difficulties, the tutor was always available to provide support through various channels. I have now completed the course and received my NVQ Level 3 certificate.

Since completing the qualification, I have received promotion to a Skilled Fitter plus a pay rise, so I am already seeing the benefit of studying, you are never too old to study – Life is about learning experiences. This one has given me a huge sense of achievement and confidence, under the circumstances, my age, having completed the course in the middle of a global pandemic – it just goes to show you are never too old to learn and your life experience skills help.

Stephen Manning, Work Based Learning NVQ Assessor (Aviation/Engineering) at Coleg y Cymoedd said “It’s been a pleasure supporting Martin through his qualification, it has been a difficult time studying through the ‘lockdown’; he has worked so hard. He truly is an inspiration to his colleagues at Pullmans, providing practical support and motivation to complete the course”.

Scott McCarthy, Training Manager at Pullman Rail added “At Pullman Rail we are committed to providing a first class training programme for our staff. The Adult Learning Programme has proved a huge success; working in partnership with Coleg y Cymoedd for over eight years, we have seen ten employees complete the course with a further eighteen enrolled on the course this month. Martin is a great example of the benefits of the programme, his endorsement of the programme has given his colleagues the confidence and determination to complete the course.

Salford Welcome first three players through Wales Rugby League and Coleg y Cymoedd partnership

Wales Rugby League and Coleg y Cymoedd are delighted that Salford Red Devils have welcomed in the first three players through our partnership with the Super League club.

Ieuan Roberts, Jake Lee and Joe Coope-Franklin will join the club’s reserve Squad for 2022. The trio visited the AJ Bell Stadium on Wednesday to meet key club staff and tour the stadium, in advance of their move to the North West of England next month.

All three players have been studying and playing rugby league at the WRL National Development Academy at Coleg y Cymoedd, with Coope-Franklin, 19, beginning his rugby league career there after switching from rugby union.

Roberts, who turns 20 this month, came through the Aber Valley Wolves club in Caerphilly and has won caps for Wales U19 and Wales Students.

Lee, who turned 19 last month, also came through the Wolves junior set-up whilst also playing once for Cardiff Blue Dragons. He has won caps for Wales U16, U19 and Wales Students.

The three players will join the Salford Red Devils reserve Squad for pre-season training, combining their rugby development with their studies at the University of Central Lancashire.  They have been identified by Paul Rowley, Stuart Wilkinson and Ian Blease during national training camps and their performances within the Wales international pathway programme.

Paul Trainor, Executive Director of the club said “We are really pleased to welcome Ieuan, Jake and Joe to the club. They have greatly impressed Paul, Stuart and Ian during their visits to Wales. It was great to meet the lads and their families to discuss the plans that will be in place for when they join the Reserve set up for pre-season.”

Paul Rowley, Head of Talent and Pathways said: “Our Welsh partnership has gone from strength to strength and these boys are another example of that.

“From talent identification and development by Stu Wilkinson to housing and educational support by Paul Trainor, these boys have been given a wonderful opportunity to continue the tradition of Welsh stars pulling on the Salford jersey.

“We have complete confidence that each of the lads have both the ability and strength of character to be successful rugby league players and are very confident these athletes will be the first of many as our work in Wales continues.”

Mark Jones, Head Coach of the Wales Rugby League National Development Academy, added: “Coleg y Cymoedd’s partnership with Salford Red Devils and Wales Rugby League is truly flourishing and I am elated for Ieuan, Jake, Joe and Ryan who are the first players to come through this new rugby league pathway. They are a testament to all the hard work the Salford, Cymoedd and Wales Rugby League staff have put in over the last 12 months.

“With Salford Red Devils’ history of signing Welsh players, we knew it was a natural fit for Coleg y Cymoedd and the WRL National Development Academy and I am looking forward to the new Welsh boys signing their contracts with Salford in the next few months.

“I would also like to thank UCLAN for all their support and we are looking forward to working with them over the next few years.

“We are the only college in Wales that offers a full time rugby league programme alongside a student’s education and Welsh players definitely now have a direct pathway to achieve their dreams of playing Super League.”

If you are interested in attending the Cymoedd Rugby League Academy please take a look at the presentation at National Development Academy Coleg y Cymoedd then complete an online application form HERE and you will then receive a reply outlining what needs to be done next to secure your place.

Cymoedd learner awarded Worshipful Livery Company of Wales Award

One of Cymoedd’s top-performing learners has received the prestigious Worshipful Livery Company of Wales Award in recognition of her excellent examination results during a very difficult period due to the pandemic.

Leah Morgan, 18, achieved top A-level grades in mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics and secured a place at Swansea University where she will learn to work with radiation therapy.

Leah, from Bedwas, is one of a handful of learners in Wales to be awarded an NHS Bursary which will see her tuition fees paid for by NHS Wales and Welsh Government, and a job working in nuclear medicine guaranteed upon completion of her degree.

Mr. Geoff Hughes, Past Master of the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales, visited the colleges’ Nantgarw campus to present the Award to Leah, together with a cheque for £250.

Mr Hughes explained that the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales was initially formed as the Welsh Livery Guild in 1993 by members of the City of London Livery Companies, who wished to extend the Livery traditions within Wales, rewarding talented students to encourage them to develop their skills in Higher Education and Employment.

He added that a primary aim of The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales is to promote education, science, technology and the arts in Wales via the School/Colleges Awards which are presented to students who have achieved outstanding results, often in difficult circumstances.

Congratulating Leah, Mr Hughes said: “Leah has demonstrated via her determination, hard work and excellent examination results that she is a worthy recipient of this year’s award. It has been really interesting speaking with Leah to hear how her love of science, family experiences and commitment to helping other people inspired her choice of course and career path. On behalf of the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales, I wish her every success in her future studies and career”.

Ian Rees, Director of A-Levels, said: “This award is testament to Leah’s hard work and motivation. Staff at the A Level Centre are extremely proud of her achievements during her time at the college. She secured excellent results and has set her sights on a career to help and treat cancer patients and those suffering from neurological conditions. Despite the challenging situation, she knew the grades required and worked hard to achieve them. We wish her every success for the future.

.Speaking after receiving her award, Leah said: “I am so proud to receive this award and would like to thank the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales and also the tutors at the college for all their help and support. It has been difficult studying through Covid, especially during the lockdowns, but when I received my conditional offer from Swansea University, it showed me that I could make the grades and gave me the motivation I needed”.

Thanking Mr. Hughes and the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales, Principal Karen Phillips said: “We are grateful to the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales for their continued support of our learners. Leah has worked so hard and deserves the recognition and Award. Throughout her time at the college, she has been keen to get involved with all aspects of college life, including representing the learners at our Academic Board meetings. I’m sure she will excel in her studies and we wish her good luck for the future”.

Futures@Cymoedd help Christian get a foot on his Career ladder

Futures Employment Bureau has once again helped match the skills of a Construction learner to the needs of a local employer. The Bureau was set up in during April 2019 to support learners leaving the college to gain employment; providing help with CV’s, job applications and interview skills.

When Lyndon Moon, Acorns Nurseries, Maintenance Manager contacted Futures regarding a vacancy for a Trainee Painter/Decorator to support the business, the Futures team shared the opportunity with the Level 2 in Painting and Decorating alumni, who had recently completed their qualification at the college.

Christian Reynolds (29) from Caerphilly was quick off the mark to respond, expressing an interest in the role. He had recently completed his Level 2 in Diploma Painting and Decorating course at the Ystrad Mynach campus but due to the pandemic had been experiencing difficulty in finding employment.

In the following weeks Christian received 1:1 support from Futures to ensure his CV included all aspects of his work experience and promoted the transferrable and sector specific skills he had to offer. This together with Christian’s ambition to work within the industry – made him a perfect match to the job opportunity at Acorns Nurseries.

Christian’s CV was submitted to Acorns Nurseries for consideration for the role. He was then shortlisted and asked to attend a socially distanced interview on site at Cathays, Cardiff and offered the position.

Commenting on Christian’s appointment Lyndon Moon said “Christian is enjoying his new role, and doing really well with the company; he’s happy with the job. He’s a really good lad.  Christian is about to start his NVQ Level 2 in Painting and Decorating, which will be supported through Coleg y Cymoedd Upskilling@Work provision”.

Michele Harris-Cocker (Futures@Cymoedd Coordinator) added “It has been a real pleasure supporting Lyndon Moon, Acorns Nurseries, Maintenance Manager with the recruitment of a Trainee Painter and Decorator.  As soon as I met Christian and had a chat about the role and gained a better understanding of his previous work experience and the skills and knowledge he had obtained I knew he was a perfect match. Through a series of meetings, together we worked through his CV ensuring we were highlighting why he was the person for the job.

Christian applied, interviewed and was appointed during a challenging and unprecedented time of a global pandemic, it just goes to show how resilient he is; his motivation, passion and hope has certainly paid off.  He is a pleasant young man who is fully committed to his new role and keen to learn new skills to help fulfil his career ambition and opportunity for further progression”.

Speaking about his new employment at Acorns Nurseries Christian said” “ I am really enjoying the job, its going great the team are fab, the time is flying by. Michele from the Employment Bureau helped me find a role to fulfil my career aspiration of working as a Painter and Decorator during a very difficult time in my life when I thought my chances of finding a good job would be slim during the difficult times we were facing and impact the pandemic was having within our communities and economic climate.

Michele has been very supportive from day one, helping make sure my CV was a good match to the job vacancy at Acorns Nurseries Maintenance Department through to interview and maintaining contact to see how I have settled in. Thank you so much for your help I really appreciate it, you have been great and really helpful.  I am looking forward to starting my NVQ Level 2 in Painting and Decorating; I will be keeping in touch to let you know how it’s all going”.

Wales apprenticeship award for bereavement services officer Bethany

Apprentice bereavement services officer Bethany Mason has won a prestigious national award after being recognised for her willingness to keep learning new skills and take on more responsibility in challenging circumstances.

Bethany, 21, from Llantrisant, who works for Rhondda Cynon Taf Borough Council, was named Foundation Apprentice of the Year when the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2021 winners were announced at a virtual ceremony on June 17.

Since joining RCT Council as a shy apprentice data entry clerk in 2016, Bethany has risen to a series of difficult challenges, making a huge difference to the staff of Glyntaff Crematorium at Glyntaff, Pontypridd and the grieving families they work with.

Committed to personal development, she has achieved a Foundation Apprenticeship and is now close to completing an NVQ level 3 in Business Administration, both delivered by Coleg y Cymoedd Nantgarw Campus.

Responding to her award, Bethany said: “I’m thrilled to win the award which shows that hard work does pay off. I must also thank my managers and trainers for their brilliant support.

“I plan to take every opportunity that comes my way in the future and would definitely recommend an apprenticeship because it helps to develop the skills that you need in your job.”

Celebrating outstanding achievement in training and apprenticeships, the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2021 saw 35 finalists compete in 12 categories.

Highlight of the work-based learning calendar, the awards showcased businesses and individuals who have excelled on the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship and Traineeship Programmes and gone the extra mile to achieve success during these unprecedented times.

Jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), the awards had Openreach, the UK’s digital network business and passionate supporter of apprenticeships, as the headline sponsor.

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund. Welsh Government Apprenticeship Programmes have benefitted 50,360 people across South East Wales since May 2016.

Working closely with her manager, Ceri Pritchard, Bethany has developed leadership skills and improved the smooth running of Glyntaff Crematorium by digitising and centralising burial records and cemetery plans for RCT Cemeteries.

She also helped to introduce a digital portal to access music for family cremation services, together with webcasts and visual tributes, which have been incredibly important for funerals held during the pandemic restrictions.

The measures have improved efficiency and helped funeral directors and people wishing to trace their family history.

Soon after being seconded to the bereavement services team at Llwydcoed Crematorium, two of Bethany’s colleagues became ill, leaving her to learn new skills quickly to both manage the complex workload with her manager, and maintain a good, family-friendly service.

“My apprenticeship has not only given me the skills to perform my role professionally and diligently but has also allowed me to progress personally and develop my ability to deal with a variety of situations,” said Bethany.

“My confidence, self-esteem and performance at work have grown enormously and I take pride in the quality of my work.”

Congratulating Bethany, Minister for the Economy, Vaughan Gething, said: “Our award winners have excelled via the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship and Traineeship programmes and gone the extra mile to achieve success during unprecedented and extremely challenging times.

“This Welsh Government has ambitious recovery plans to ensure there is no lost generation as we rebuild a new version of Wales that becomes an engine for sustainable, inclusive growth. I believe apprenticeships will be vital as we emerge from the pandemic.

“That’s why the new Welsh Government has committed to creating a further 125,000 Apprenticeship places over the next five years. We are a small country, but we have big ambitions, and our aim is to create a culture in Wales where recruiting an apprentice becomes the norm for employers.”

Aspire Shared Apprenticeship Programme celebrates national award

The success of a pioneering Apprenticeship Programme that is breathing new life into the advanced manufacturing sector across two South Wales local authority areas has been recognised with a prestigious national award.

Aspire Blaenau Gwent & Merthyr Tydfil’s Shared Apprenticeship Programme won the Large Employer of the Year award at the virtual Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2021 ceremony on June 17.

The Shared Apprenticeship Programme was created six years ago to tackle high unemployment and relatively low skill levels within the manufacturing industry across Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil.

The programme has directly benefited 123 apprentices as well as companies that have adopted its innovative approach. Learners are rotated around host employers to plug skills gaps by training on-the-job and working to achieve units towards their apprenticeship.

Aspire’s regional skills development manager, Tara Lane, said: “We are so proud to have won this prestigious award again and would like to thank our partners, host employers and, most importantly, our apprentices for all their hard work during such a difficult year for everybody.

“We really have had a challenging time, but everyone has adapted to various different forms of delivery and we are proud to say we have not lost any apprentices through the pandemic and continued to deliver a quality pathway of training and support programme throughout.

“We are very small team and to compete with the other large employers is a true credit to our staff. Their dedication and passion for supporting apprentices to secure careers through an apprenticeship programme has been commendable.”

Celebrating outstanding achievement in training and apprenticeships, the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2021 saw 35 finalists compete in 12 categories.

Highlight of the work-based learning calendar, the awards showcased businesses and individuals who have excelled on the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship and Traineeship Programmes and gone the extra mile to achieve success during these unprecedented times.

Jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), the awards had Openreach, the UK’s digital network business and passionate supporter of apprenticeships, as the headline sponsor.

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund. Welsh Government Apprenticeship Programmes have benefitted 50,360 people across South East Wales since May 2016.

Aspire’s Shared Apprenticeship Programme was first established in 2015 when Ebbw Vale Enterprise Zone Board identified a significant lack of employees with skills at Level 3 and above in Blaenau Gwent. Two years later, Merthyr Tydfil joined to develop its business growth and enhance skills whilst tackling unemployment.

Aspire is now working with both Coleg y Cymoedd, who link with Coleg Gwent, and Coleg Merthyr Tydfil to foster the next generation of skilled workers through apprenticeships covering Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, ICT, Applied Science, Quality Engineering as well as Business/Commercial Administration and Finance.

With a target to recruit 20 new apprentices every year, Aspire has achieved a 100% success rate through a team facilitating their employment with hosts and then dealing with any issues as they occur. More than 30 employers have engaged with the programme.

“Aspire is a true example of collaboration,” said Matthew Tucker, Coleg y Cymoedd’s assistant principal. “The success of the programme has made Aspire a leading project in the sector.”

Congratulating Aspire, Minister for the Economy, Vaughan Gething, said: “Our award winners have excelled via the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship and Traineeship programmes and gone the extra mile to achieve success during unprecedented and extremely challenging times.

“This Welsh Government has ambitious recovery plans to ensure there is no lost generation as we rebuild a new version of Wales that becomes an engine for sustainable, inclusive growth. I believe apprenticeships will be vital as we emerge from the pandemic.

“That’s why the new Welsh Government has committed to creating a further 125,000 Apprenticeship places over the next five years. We are a small country, but we have big ambitions, and our aim is to create a culture in Wales where recruiting an apprentice becomes the norm for employers.”

Cymoedd Catering learner wins Gold

Cymoedd’s patisserie learner Verity-Ann Lewis has achieved her ambition and won Gold in a recent Skills Patisserie competition. Verity-Ann, the only Cymoedd Catering learner, competed against learners from colleges across Wales.

Skills Competition Wales, funded by the Welsh Government is designed to raise the profile of skills in Wales. The competition helps boost the skillset of the future workforce, focussing on the growth areas and the needs of the economy.

This year due to the pandemic, the learners did not travel to various centres to compete in the UK Skills Regional heat; but prepared their work in-house, which was then judged remotely. Verity –Ann’s presentation, creativity and style hit the grade with the judges, who presented her with the prestigious Gold Award.

Verity, from Rhymney has studied at the Hospitality and Catering department on Ystrad Mynach campus for 3 years and then did Patisserie on the Nantgarw campus this year, she has been involved with all aspects of the department. She has always been keen to enter competitions to gain experience and showcase the skills she has acquired at the college.

During the particularly difficult time of Covid-19, Verity-Ann was completing the Level 3 VTCT Patisserie and Confectionary course but ever focussed she dedicated a significant amount of time, training for the competition; both in the college and at home.

Congratulating Verity on her success, Course Tutor Ian Presgrave said “Verity has worked hard throughout her years within the college and through her own hard work and training from dedicated tutors, she has reached her goals in winning gold. We wish her good luck for a successful career”.

An excited Verity-Ann added “I have to thank my tutors for the support they have given me, especially Ian, Ben and Mark who have all encouraged me over the last year. Having studied Patisserie in Nantgarw, the college has provided me with fantastic facilities and tuition which has enabled me to achieve my goals”.

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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