National Apprenticeship Week @ Coleg y Cymoedd


Coleg y Cymoedd celebrated National Apprenticeship Week by hosting a number of events across its four campuses; whilst also supporting many external Apprenticeship events.

The college delivers a wide range of Apprenticeship Programmes including Childcare, Construction, Engineering and Railway; and is recognised by Welsh Government for its quality delivery and outcomes, specifically in Engineering and Manufacturing. It is also acknowledged for its responsiveness to the local labour market needs.

Following last year’s successful activities the college, again invited employers from across Caerphilly, Rhondda Cynon Taf and surrounding areas to join them for presentations, Information sharing sessions and Networking opportunities.

Employers also took the opportunity to promote their apprenticeship schemes and any employment opportunities in their organisations to the hundreds of learners across the four campuses.

A new addition for this year’s Apprenticeship Week celebrations at the college was the Women’s Apprenticeship Event held on International Women’s Day.  This was a great success with speakers from a range of backgrounds providing inspiring presentations.

Deputy Principal Karen Phillips welcomed the guests and gave an overview of her own experience of traineeships when she was first employed by the Local Authority.

Guest speaker Karen Green left a job in the Catering industry to Melin Homes as a Community Development Officer. Her message at the event was ‘There are lots of routes in Construction for women - Take every opportunity’! Karen stressed how important Careers advice is when choosing a career and advised that Melin Homes is currently working on a Schools project to change mind sets.

Apprentice Hannah Colston was the next speaker at the event, she shared her experiences of being a female apprentice in a male dominated sector. When Hannah left school she didn’t feel ready for university and decided to enrol on an apprenticeship at the college.  This she found to be a life changing experience, boosting her confidence while she was learning and earning.

She has won numerous awards including European Apprentice of the Year and is now employed as a trainee QS at Trojan Construction and is enrolled on a degree course at University of South Wales.

Following Hannah, Dawn Evans, MD, Ajuda Training Services gave a personal presentation on her route into employment and setting up her business. She advised whilst at school she was more sporty than academic and it was through the knowledge gained via her vocational training that focussed her to set up her training company. Now Dawn has purchased a training centre in Cardiff and has completed three degrees, in Education, Sustainable Leadership and Female Entrepreneurship.  Her advice ‘Have confidence, passion and believe in yourself’

The final speaker on the programme was successful business woman – Tracy Smolinsky.  Tracy shared the fact that she was not academic but did sit her GCSE’s. Her first job was in admin in a Finance House; she quickly learnt that was not for her. She switched employment and went to work for the Western Mail, selling advertising. In 2007 she attended her first Networking event with the organisation and fell in love with networking. In 2008, together with an investor, she set up her company Intro Biz; which she currently runs with her partner –Later this year at their Expo event – there will be a special appearance by Lord Sugar.

Reflecting on the weeks activities Matt Tucker, Director of Business Services said” Apprenticeship Week is a key date in our calendar, it’s an important time for us to raise the profile our Apprenticeships and related courses, engage with employers and promote the benefits and opportunities of the programmes.  Each year we try to expand the week’s activities, and this year we included the Women’s Event on March 8th, to mark International Women’s Day. We are grateful to everyone who supported our events and look forward to working with them throughout the year.  Planning for next year’s Apprenticeship Week is already underway”!

National Apprenticeship Week @ Coleg y Cymoedd



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