Best apprentices in Wales honoured at Quality Skills Alliance Awards

Nineteen of the finest apprentices working in Wales have had their hard work and dedication celebrated at a special awards ceremony.

Employers and practitioners who have gone that extra mile in their commitment to work based learning were also recognised at the ceremony, held in the spectacular surroundings of Cardiff and Vale College’s City Centre Campus and hosted by Ross Harries.

The apprentices’ commitment was celebrated at the fifth Annual Awards ceremony held by the Quality Skills Alliance – a consortium of work-based learning providers made up of 23 partners and subcontractors. The awards celebrate excellence and achievement, and the winners were chosen by a panel comprising the QSA’s chair – CAVC Principal Kay Martin – and board.

The overall award for Apprentice of the Year went to JGR Training apprentice Caitlin Perry. Chosen to represent the National Assembly for Wales at a number of events, Caitlin has been a shining example of an outstanding apprentice.

Caitlin successfully achieved her Foundation Apprenticeship in Business Administration – alongside Welsh lessons and customer service training – and three weeks later embarked upon a Foundation Apprenticeship in Customer Service. Since then she has secured a permanent position at the organisation and is keen to progress to a Level 3 Customer Service Apprenticeship.

Caitlin said:

“I was so pleased to win two awards this evening. I won the Business, Administration and Financial Services Award and also I won the overall Apprentice of the Year award which I wasn’t expecting at all! There were so many great candidates here this evening and hearing a bit about what they did – I wasn’t expecting to win it! I’m absolutely thrilled to have won the both of them.


“I saw in the booklet that there was an overall Apprentice of the Year Award and I thought ‘Well, it could be me but there’s no chance it will be me’. Then when they said my name it took a moment to click! I’m just so thrilled and I still can’t get over it, I’m so pleased.

“My family are thrilled for me; they are absolutely over the moon. I’ve had messages from relatives already congratulating me! It’s just such an achievement and I’m just so pleased that I have won these awards.


“I would like to thank my parents for their encouragement throughout the process. Lydia Harris from JGR Group, my college tutor – she’s been absolutely incredible and supportive throughout. And my employer, the National Assembly for Wales – it’s been an excellent experience working there and all the opportunities I have received along the way. It’s been phenomenal.”


The ICT Apprentice of the Year went to Matthew Hewer, who is employed by B2B IT Services and was nominated by the CAVC’s risual academy, which is run in partnership with Microsoft.

Soon into his apprenticeship it became clear that Matthew possessed skills and knowledge beyond his years. Passionate about his work, he has been a role model for his peers and completed his framework within nine months.

Selected to compete at two WorldSkills competitions, Matthew also made significant contributions to the College’s cadets and also to the Duke of Edinburgh Award, qualifying as an adult instructor and leader.

Matthew said:

“I feel great, it’s an honour really to pick up the award. I’ve got my tutor, Peter Franklin to thank, he’s helped me and put me through WorldSkills. I’ve also got my directors John and Luke; they’ve pushed me near enough to my limit a lot of the time but at the end of the day I’ve learned from it and gained from it.


“I want to become a manager. I’ve been able to learn about my field a lot more, within WorldSkills I’ve been able to meet new people that I probably never would have met before and with the College’s knowledge I can just gain from it and keep working towards my goals.”


Cardiff and Vale College runs a successful apprenticeship scheme with Deloitte at its Cardiff Delivery Centre. Deloitte apprentice Rob Young won the Role Model Award; an award recognising apprentices who are an inspiration to work based learners.

Rob’s ability to make the transition from an apprentice at Deloitte to fully-fledged employee exemplifies the vocational pathways and parity with other qualifications that apprenticeships offer. One of the first young people in Wales to be accepted on to the Deloitte apprenticeship, Rob has gone on to be recruited to its BrightStart Higher Apprenticeship which allows talented young people to jump straight into the world of professional services.

Rob was chosen for the Role Model Award for his dedication and positivity towards his apprenticeship.

Rob said:

“It’s been absolutely great, having attended the College almost two years ago now, doing my apprenticeship with Deloitte and progressing onto a Higher Apprenticeship. It’s been a fantastic evening to celebrate with other apprentices from other companies that maybe you wouldn’t normally get to meet. The networking and events are just as great as the practical qualifications.


“Andrew Whitcombe, CAVC’s Dean of Work Based Learning, has been fundamental in my success here. Lisa Styling and Hayley Carpenter have both supported me throughout my apprenticeship. The management team at the College particularly the Principal, Kay Martin, have been very supportive of us individually and of Deloitte as a firm bringing this new apprenticeship into the city.


“A very proud moment, I won the CAVC apprenticeship award last year and it’s nice to still be recognised a year on and now actually help other apprentices who are studying towards what I’ve already achieved. It’s great to still be a part of the College and be part of that Alumni.”


A Special Recognition Award went to Shauna Holmes. A stand-out student at CAVC’s International Centre for Aerospace Training (ICAT), Shauna always assists her peers and used her spare time to volunteer for Rolls Royce and as a result has been offered an unconditional place on an Advanced Apprenticeship with them.

A beacon in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Shauna received the Special Recognition Award for achieving an unconditional offer of an Advanced Apprenticeship with one of the world’s leading engineering firms.

Shauna said:

“We only found out recently that I was going to be an apprentice at Rolls Royce and I wasn’t told I was going to be nominated for any award. I just had an email one day that said ‘You have won an award’ and I thought ‘Oh my God!’ I was completely shocked.

“The apprenticeship is an Advanced Practical Apprenticeship based in Bristol. They do all the engines manufacture for defence engines. I will be working on the line and helping rebuild and strip the engines. It’s amazing.


“I would like to thank my tutor, Chris Pilcher. When I came to the College I had an idea of the company I wanted to work for. Chris was determined to change that and widen my horizons and he completely did that, bless him! I’m so thankful to him because without him as a teacher I wouldn’t even have thought of Rolls Royce in the first place so I wouldn’t be here now.


“It’s amazing. My family are so chuffed for me and so proud. It’s so nice to even feel that – it’s fab. I’m so happy!”


Retiring JGR Training Manager Tish Walters also received a Special Recognition Award to celebrate a long and fruitful career in which her passion for and dedication to work based learning has been unstinting.Cardiff and Vale College Apprenticeships Quality and Data Team Leader Maureen Bielski received the Work Based Learning Practitioner Award in recognition of her exemplary support to apprentices and colleagues.

Employers were also celebrated for their commitment to apprentices. CLEARTECH live won the award for small employer, while the award for medium employer went to ITV Cymru Wales and Cardiff Council won for large employer.

Lloyds Banking Group won the New Employer Award. One of CAVC’s largest partner organisations, the College has recently started recruiting and delivering Lloyds’ apprenticeship programme in what looks to be a continuing partnership.

A special new Innovation and Partnership Award was won by Aston Martin, Cardiff and Vale College’s latest work based learning partner. The College is developing a new strand of apprenticeships with the luxury car manufacturer to develop its Welsh work based learning programme at its new St Athan facility.

Hazel Martin, Director of HR at Aston Martin, said:

“It’s a great pleasure to receive this award on behalf of Aston Martin. Over the last two years we’ve built a really strong partnership with Cardiff and Vale College.


“We’re really looking forward now to working together to create a tailored apprenticeship programme for the future, for Aston Martin, in St Athan and it’s a really exciting time for us now and we’re really looking forward to it. Now we start looking forward now to 2019, 2020 where we will be recruiting apprentices for the future and this is the vision, to just have really great young talent that we will bring together now to help us make St Athan a success.”


CAVC Principal and QSA Chair Kay Martin said:

“It really has been a pleasure to celebrate the achievements of each and every winner at the QSA Annual Awards. As a consortium we know apprenticeships work and by developing opportunities for apprenticeships we can have a huge impact on individuals, employers, communities and the economy.”


The awards had been generously supported by sponsorship from Focus Training, NDGTA, JTL and Safe and Secure Training. QSA apprenticeships are funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.


Award Winner Employer/Nominator Award
Henry Deane Davies Motor Company/CAVCA Automotive – Body
Brett Skyrme Edwards Coaches/CAVCA Automotive – Heavy vehicle
Lewis Williams CEM Day/Skillnet Automotive – Light Vehicle
Caitlin Perry National Assembly for Wales/JGR Training Business and Financial Services
Joe Price IS Construction/CAVCA Construction
Laura Thorne BBC Cymru Wales/Sgil Cymru Creative Industries
Thomas Watkins White Hart Multimedia/Sgil Cymru Creative Industries
Jack Germain Centregreat/JTL Electrotechnical
Ellis Russell Burton’s Biscuits/NDGTA Engineering
Ria Jones Elfed Avenue Playgroup/CAVCA Health and Social Care
Matthew Hewer B2B IT Services/CAVC risual Academy ICT
Danielle Hartley-Smith The AA/Focus On Insurance Services
Adele Bristow Pen-y-Bont Nursing Home/JGR Training Management
Ethan Park Park Plumbing/CAVCA Plumbing
Rod Charity Tesco/CAVCA Refrigeration and Air Conditioning
Michael Thomas Cardiff Council/Safe and Secure Training Sustainable Resource Management
Tibor Cervenak CAVC/CAVC Junior Apprentice
Joshua Crew BAMCE Higher Apprenticeship
Robert Young Deloitte Role Model
Maureen Bielski CAVCA Work Based Learning Practitioner
Shauna Holmes Rolls Royce/CAVC Special Recognition
Tish Walters JGR Training Special Recognition
CLEARTech Live   Small Employer of the Year
ITV Cymru Wales   Medium Employer of the Year
Cardiff Council   Large Employer of the Year
Lloyds Banking group   New Employer of the Year
Aston Martin   Innovation and Partnership
Clive Fleming   Outstanding Contribution
Neil Purslow   Outstanding Contribution
Caitlin Perry   QSA Apprentice of the Year