Wales’ work-based learning stars recognised at virtual awards ceremony

Apprentices with inspirational stories, employers committed to developing a highly skilled workforce and dedicated work-based learning practitioners who go the extra mile for their learners were recognised at a virtual awards ceremony last week.

The prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2022 brought together 23 finalists from across Wales who have excelled on the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship Programme. They logged in online to hear the winners of nine awards announced.

Highlight of the year for apprentices, employers and work-based learning providers and practitioners, the awards are organised by the Welsh Government and supported by the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) and headline sponsor Openreach.

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething congratulated all the award winners and finalists. “This Welsh Government has ambitious plans to make Wales an engine for sustainable, inclusive growth and give every young person the best possible start in the world of work,” he said.

“I believe apprenticeships are vital to this vision and that’s why we are investing £366 million over the next three years in the delivery of our apprenticeship programme. I am determined we do all we can as a government to help deliver the long-term economic benefits our young people deserve.

“We are a small country but we have big ambitions, and our aim is to foster a culture in Wales where recruiting an apprentice is the norm for employers.”

Connie Dixon, partnership director for Wales for Openreach, said. “Congratulations to all the winners at this year’s Apprenticeship Awards Cymru. Every finalist has made a valuable contribution to their organisation which has rightly been recognised.

“At Openreach we recognise the huge contribution our apprentices make in the way they bring new skills, energy and ways of working to the business.

“As we continue to build our ultrafast Full Fibre network across Wales our apprentices will play a vital role – not only to Openreach but also to the wider Welsh economy.”

Two award winners, Chrystalla Moreton, 20, from Fairwater, Cardiff and Kiera Dwyer, 24, from Rhydyfelin, Pontypridd, have both overcome major challenges in their lives to develop promising careers.

Engineering apprentice Chrystalla, who won the Tomorrow’s Talent Award, works for reinforced steel manufacturer Celsa Steel UK in Cardiff. Seeking to become a role model for women in the steel industry, she is described as a “shining star” by her employer, a finalist in the Large Employer of the Year category.

Having to revise her original plan to join the Army following a family tragedy took its toll on Chrystalla’s mental health. She is now making up for lost time as she works towards a Mechanical Engineering Apprenticeship in Production Services, delivered by training provider TSW, whilst also supporting her siblings.

“After being at the lowest point in my life, this is a massive turnaround,” said Chrystalla.

Pharmacy technician Kiera, who has Irlen Syndrome, also known as visual stress, was named Apprentice of the Year. She has shown determination, dedication and commitment to achieve a series of qualifications to support Sheppards Pharmacy, part of the Avicenna group, in Abercynon.

Working on the front line during the pandemic, Kiera had to deal with a series of traumatic family events, including the loss of her beloved grandfather. She has taken on extra responsibility, allowing pharmacists more time with patients, resulting in a satisfaction rating of up to 100% for the community pharmacy.

To overcome the visual stress, she invested in additional learning aids for written work and revision to complete a Pre-registration Pharmacy Technician Training Programme Apprenticeship which included a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Pharmaceutical Science through awarding body Pearson and a City & Guilds Level 3 in Pharmacy Service Skills.

The apprenticeship was delivered by Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) supported by ALS Training.

Higher Apprentice of the Year Award winner Jayne Williams has become the “apprenticeships poster girl” within HM Courts and Tribunals Service due to her passion for learning and development.

Jayne, 58, from Newport, has seen her role as a court clerk expanded to cover running staff training, coaching, facilitation and academy courses. In the past year, she helped train 690 HMCTS colleagues via online workshops.

She was the first HMCTS employee to achieve a Higher Apprenticeship (Level 4) in Advice & Guidance, delivered by training provider ACT. Jayne now hopes to continue her learning journey with more qualifications.

Digital internal quality assurer Angelina Mitchell, 28, who works for training provider ACT in Cardiff, was named Work-based Learning Practitioner of the Year.

Pioneering the delivery of the Digital Learning Design Apprenticeship Framework in Wales, Angelia believes her role is to open the door for learners to gain the skills to confidently use technology.

A former secondary school teacher of modern foreign languages, Angelina joined ACT looking for a new career challenge and wanting to help others become tech savvy.

To understand her learners’ journey, she completed the apprenticeships herself and delivers them bilingually, having won the Work Welsh Learner of the Year Award (intermediate). Ninety per cent of her learners complete their qualification and Angelina has an 88% employer engagement rating.

Named Medium Employer of the Year, FSG Tool and Die, based in Llantrisant, has developed an international reputation for the exceptional skills of its award-winning apprentices who have helped improve the company’s manufacturing process.

Apprentices employed by the tool and die manufacturer excel in national and international competitions and have helped streamline its manufacturing process, thereby improving efficiency by six per cent.

They have also invented smaller electric car batteries for a customer and are trialling sustainable manufacturing materials for a greener future.

FSG Tool and Die has a workforce exceeding 90, including 12 apprentices who are working towards Apprenticeships up to degree level in Mechanical Engineering, delivered by training provider TSW Training and the University of Wales Trinity St David in Swansea.

The Large Employer of the Year Award went to Kepak Group Limited in Merthyr Tydfil which has created its own internal trainers to develop the next generation of employees to build the company’s skilled workforce.

Adopting this work-based training approach just 18 months ago with support from by training provider Cambrian Training Company, Kepak has already seen a 15% reduction in staff turnover and first-generation apprentices are being promoted to more senior roles.

Forty employees are working towards apprenticeships including Meat and Poultry Industry Skills (levels 2 and 3), Food Industry Skills (levels 2 and 3), Food Team Leading (level 2), Food Management (level 3), Food Manufacturing Excellence (level 4) and Management (level 4 and 5).

Domiciliary care team leader Boglárka-Tunde Incze from Llanrug was named Foundation Apprentice of the Year. She changed career direction during the pandemic, having initially used a Bachelor of Computer Sciences Degree to work for international companies.

Apprenticeships are helping Boglárka-Tunde to make a difference to the lives of people she cares for in their own homes and to colleagues she works with. Originally from Romania, Welsh learner Boglarka works part-time for Gofal Bro Cyf and is a Marie Curie palliative healthcare assistant.
Having completed Levels 2 and 3 Apprenticeships in Health and Social Care with Itec Skills and Employment, she would like to qualify as an assessor.

Carmarthen-based day care provider Willow Daycare, winner of the Small Employer of the Year Award, launched at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic with a strong focus on training staff through apprenticeships.

Owner Rebecca Davies started the business in the grounds of Glangwili General Hospital, recognising a desperate shortage of childcare support, particularly for the NHS staff.

The number of children attending Willow Daycare, which has 20 employees, has increased from seven to 130 a year later. Apprenticeships in Children’s Care, Play, Learning and Development from Levels 2-5 as well as Playwork Level 3 are delivered by TSW Training.

The Macro Employer of the Year Award went to Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, which has launched an industry-leading apprenticeship programme to produce specialist healthcare professionals to meet future challenges posed by an ageing Welsh population.

After identifying that one in four people in Wales will be aged 65 and over by 2036, the board evolved its strategy four years ago to embrace work-based learning. Higher Apprenticeship (Level 4) in Health Care Science – the first of its kind in Wales – are delivered in partnership with training provider Educ8 Training.

Bridging the gap between Level 3 health related apprenticeships and a degree, the Higher Apprenticeship enables learners to progress to become a registered scientist. More than 550 staff have accessed an apprenticeship.


Foundation Apprentice of the Year finalists: Olivia Headley-Grant from Barry who works for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and whose training provider is Cardiff and Vale College and Malgorzata Bienko from Llandudno, who works for School Lane Preschool in Llandudno and whose training provider is Arfon Dwyfor Training.

Apprentice of the Year finalists: James Matthewman from Maesteg Golf Club whose training provider is Bridgend College, Dion Evans from Alwyn Evans Ltd, Talgarreg, Llandysul whose training providers are Coleg Ceredigion and Coleg Sir Gar.

Higher Apprentice of the Year Award finalists: Albert Brennan from Cefn-y-Bedd, Wrexham who works for Airbus, Broughton and whose training provider is Swansea University and Michelle Gaskell from Abergavenny, who works for the Forensic Capability Network and whose training provider is ALS Training.

Small and Medium Employers of the Year finalists: Si Lwli, Whitchurch, Cardiff whose training provider is Educ8 Training and Newtown High School whose training provider is Portal Training.

Large and Macro Employers of the Year finalists: Persimmon Homes West Wales whose training provider is Bridgend College and Celsa Steel UK, Cardiff whose training provider is TSW Training.

Work-based Learning Practitioner of the Year Award finalists: Victoria Morris from Educ8 Training, Ystrad Mynach and Hayley Walters from Itec Training Solutions, Cardiff.

Tomorrow’s Talent finalists: Anya O’Callaghan from Spirit Hair Team, Ystrad Mynach whose training provider is Educ8 Training and Evan Coombs from PCI Pharma Services and Aspire Blaenau Gwent whose training providers are Coleg y Cymoedd and Gower College Swansea.

The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund. For more information about recruiting an apprentice, visit: or call 03000 603000.

Picture captions:

Chrystalla Moreton, winner of the Tomorrow’s Talent Award.