From education to employment

Council’s Apprenticeship Programme continues to thrive

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s employment, education and training team manager Sian Woolson with apprentice and graduate co-ordinator Maria Jones.

Despite the challenges caused by a global pandemic and Storm Dennis, which affected 1,500 homes and businesses across the region, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s (@RCTCouncil) Apprenticeship Programme has thrived.

With a programme stretching back nine years, the council was able to act swiftly. Its 80 apprentices were set up to work from home with laptops, desks, chairs and other equipment while virtual learning and extensions to courses and deadlines were implemented by training providers.

In response to last February’s Storm Dennis, which damaged highways, bridges and town centres across the region, the council has even recruited an additional four civil engineering apprentices. One of these will work specifically on flood risk management.

It is little wonder that this commitment to training has seen an apprenticeship completion rate of 94% with almost eight out of 10 apprentices going on to employment with the council.

In recognition of this commitment to apprenticeships, the council has been shortlisted for the Macro Employer of the Year award at the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2021.

This annual celebration of outstanding achievement in training and apprenticeships will see 35 finalists compete in 12 categories for awards. The winners will be announced at a virtual awards ceremony on April 29.

Highlight of the work-based learning calendar, the awards showcase 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.

The awards are jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). Openreach, the UK’s digital network business and passionate supporter of apprenticeships, has renewed its headline sponsorship of the awards.

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

With various training partners, the council offers Apprenticeship Frameworks across 15 disciplines, including Business and Administration, Telecoms, Horticulture and Management.

Over the past 12 months, apprentice versatility has been key. Apprentices have bene redeployed to support essential community services, have worked with the NHS on coronavirus shielding data and have distributed food parcels.

Sian Woolson, education, employment and training manager for RCT Council, said: “One of our innovative practices is tripartite working groups between the learner, programme co-ordinator and training provider. This has helped 36 apprentices to complete their Frameworks despite the spring lockdown.”

Helena Williams, director of Cardiff-based training provider ALS Training, added: “RCT offers opportunities to applicants from all backgrounds and ability levels to learn and develop via an apprenticeship in a dynamic and future-focused organisation.”

Minister for the Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates, said: “Our Apprenticeship and Traineeship Programmes are helping people fulfil their career ambitions and I’m delighted we have already reached our target of creating 100,000 apprenticeships in this Senedd term. 

“This has been key in helping apprentices of all ages to gain important skills and experience that we know businesses across all sectors of the economy in Wales really need. This will be vital as we emerge from the pandemic.

“Apprenticeship Awards Cymru provides an excellent opportunity to celebrate and showcase the achievements of all involved, from star apprentices to skilled learning providers.

“I’d like to congratulate all the finalists announced for this year’s event and wish each and every one all the best for the future.”

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