From education to employment

West Wales family construction business wins coveted apprenticeship award

TRJ Ltd receives the Medium Employer of the Year award.

Successful West Wales family construction business TRJ Ltd, which was founded by former apprentice T. Richard Jones in 1935, was named Medium Employer of the Year at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2024.

Some 89 years after Mr Jones launched the Ammanford business, TRJ is still employing apprentices, ensuring a constant stream of construction talent for South West Wales.

The third generation of the family is now running the company which employs 160 people – including 16 apprentices – and around 100 local sub-contractors.

Over the past five years, TRJ has employed 43 apprentices and supports award-winning shared apprenticeships and traditional apprenticeship programmes through Cyfle Building Skills and Coleg Sir Gâr.

Highlight of the year for apprentices, employers and work-based learning providers and practitioners, the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru are organised by the Welsh Government and supported by the National Training Federation for Wales (NTFW).

Headline sponsor this year was EAL, specialist skills partner and awarding organisation for industry. The awards highlight the outstanding achievements of employers, apprentices and work-based learning practitioners.

Responding to the award, Stuart Thomas, TRJ Ltd’s social value and training officer, said:

“So much effort goes into apprenticeships, as we have heard from the amazing finalists in all the categories tonight, and it’s overwhelming that we have been recognised for getting people on the first stepping stone of their career.

“I am really happy for TRJ that we have achieved the high standards and excellence required to win this award.

“Learning and development are a key part of the company’s commitment to developing our employees’ careers. The founder began his career as an apprentice carpenter, who then built the company and instilled in others the importance of education and development.”

Apprenticeships are at the core of TRJ Ltd whose mantra is ‘building on a firm foundation’. Nine former apprentices now hold management or supervisory roles.

A wide range of construction trade apprenticeships are delivered by Coleg Sir Gâr, Neath Port Talbot College and Bridgend College.

TRJ Ltd director Owain Jones is a CITB trustee and involved in developing a new delivery model of construction training. The company piloted a Foundation Apprenticeship in Construction and Civil Engineering Operations, in partnership with Coleg Sir Gâr and CITB, which was completed by 30 apprentices.

Apprentices learn a range of construction trade skills across the business, supported by an online learning portal.

Al Parkes, managing director at EAL, said:

“I would like to congratulate not just TRJ Ltd and the other award winners, but all the employers, apprentices and work-based learning practitioners who were nominated.

“Showcasing their achievements is important as it inspires more people to consider apprenticeships and encourages more employers to take on apprentices.”

Chief executive of the Commission for Tertiary Education and Research, Simon Pirotte OBE, said:

“I want to congratulate all the finalists and winners. Stories like theirs drive home the high impact that apprenticeships can have, helping people to find fulfilling employment and contributing to Wales’ skills system. They will be a crucial part of the newly founded Commission for Tertiary Education and Research.”

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