The sky’s the limit for Joe Hembrough who has converted his passion for sustainable seafood into an apprenticeship with The Menai Seafood Company in Bangor.
That’s the opinion of Chris Jones, head of the food and drink business team at Cambrian Training Company, one of Wales’ leading apprenticeship providers.
He was so impressed with Joe’s passion and commitment to learn that he nominated him for the Outstanding Individual of the Year award at the company’s annual Apprenticeship, Employment and Skills Awards. The judges agreed and Joe was announced as the award winner.
Joe said: “I am delighted to have received the award and that the hard work that I have put in to my apprenticeship has been recognised. Cambrian Training have been amazing at teaching me about the industry that I work within, and I've learnt so much.
“I've thoroughly enjoyed being able to learn at my own pace and believe that the training I have received will not only be beneficial to myself but also the Menai Seafood Company.
“I would really like to be able to use the knowledge I have obtained to help new employees with an interest in being part of the seafood industry. Also, I'd like to say a massive thankyou to Mark and James, the owners of The Menai Seafood Company, for employing me and helping me pave a career within the seafood industry.”
Joe’s passion for seafood began when he worked on the fish counter at a major retailer which encouraged him to seek a job where he could find out more about sustainably sourced fish.
He volunteered at The Menai Seafood Company before securing his dream job as a fishmonger/manager and being enrolled on an Apprenticeship in Fish and Shellfish with Cambrian Training Company. Looking to the future, he hopes to progress to a Higher Apprenticeship in Food Manufacturing Excellence.
“The team The Menai Seafood Company combines a deep love of the ocean's food with a desire to protect it and ensure its sustainability for generations to come,” said Chris.
“They provide the very best food the sea has to offer - responsibly sourced, fresh and full flavoured fish and shellfish. They balance sustainability with a love of seafood.
“Joe is the epitome of this ethos. His passion for seafood and his desire to learn more are second to none. He wants to understand every area of the industry from recipe development to marine biology.
“One of Joe’s attributes is talking with customers about sustainable products. He loves nothing more than changing public perception on under-utilised and under-fished seafood. He sees it as his responsibility to inform customers of the need for the seas to be fished responsibly and to promote underused seafood.”
Such is Joe’s passion for his job that he has chosen to research six units of principles instead of the usual two for his apprenticeship, and his work is described as “outstanding”.
Chris hopes that Joe will be part of a Welsh seafood campaign to encourage other young people to join the industry.
“Joe is quite simply a great employee, learner and person to know,” he added. “I have no doubt that the sky’s the limit for him and I am proud that Cambrian Training will be part of his journey.”
Fifteen employers and learners who have excelled in apprenticeship, skills and employment training programmes delivered by Cambrian Training were shortlisted for the awards.
Winners of each category will have the chance to be put forward for the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru, which are jointly organised by the National Training Federation for Wales and the Welsh Government.
Katy Godsell, Cambrian Training Company’s marketing manager, congratulated Joe and all the award winners, emphasising the high calibre of finalists.
“These awards celebrate the achievements of those who have exceeded expectations during their engagement and commitment to their apprenticeship training and skills programmes,” she said.
“They have shown a unique approach to apprenticeship training and development and demonstrated initiative and enterprise, innovation and creativity during a challenging past 18 months.”
With offices in Welshpool, Holyhead, Colwyn Bay, Llanelli and Llanelwedd, Cambrian Training Company delivers work-based apprenticeships across Wales.
The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.