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56-Year-Old Welder Progresses Career with Carmarthenshire Company

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This has been submitted by The Welsh Government 

A Carmarthenshire welding business has shown its commitment to investing in its older employees’ skills by backing a new Welsh Government campaign designed to challenge stereotypes and show  ‘people don’t have a best before date’.

Paul Evans was 16 when he left school. His last day was on a Friday and he took a job as a welder’s mate the following Monday. His new job was at Amcanu, now a global player, but then a small family-run company in Burry Port in Carmarthenshire.

40 years on, the 56 year old is now Welding Shop Team Leader at the company which designs and builds world-class metal industrial enclosures.

Paul and Amcanu are supporting the Welsh Government’s Age of Investment initiative launched during Skills for Work Week, which highlights to employers across Wales the importance of retaining their older workers.

It warns employers that within the next five years, one in three people of working age will be over fifty. Therefore, investing in skills throughout an employee’s working life has never been more important.

“I didn’t know much about the job and didn’t want to go to college, so I learned my trade here on the factory floor. I started cutting metal with saws and drills, and then learned the skill of welding. You watch, have a go, listen and learn. You do that over and over until you get it right. It was drummed into me that quality was everything. You can’t cut corners here,” said Paul

“I’ve been on a few short courses at the local college when I needed some specialist knowledge about a different type of welding, but most of my learning has been here in the factory and now I am confident at making anything.”

Paul has been a foreman for 25 of the 40 years at Amcanu and currently looks after a team of 8, including apprentices.

He continued:

“I teach the apprentices the way I was taught. I want to be fair to everybody, giving them the support they need to produce the high quality work Amcanu expects and is known for.

“It’s great to play a part building the team and watching the company grow. I’ll keep working this way until the day I finish.”Owain Davies, Managing Director for Amcanu, said: “Workers in the older age bracket are a huge asset and we need to shout about them, louder and more often. We benefit so much from their experience. They are great teachers, great at motivating others. They understand that failure is not a bad word. That you learn more about yourself and the job when you get it wrong and reflect on that, than when you get things right all the time. Their success breeds success.”

As part of its Age of Investment initiative, the Welsh Government has teamed up with BITC Cymru, Learning and Work Institute and the Older People’s Commissioner to launch the ‘People Don’t Have a Best Before Date’ campaign, designed to challenge the stereotypes of older workers and demonstrate their value in the workplace.

Paul is one of eleven employees selected from a cross-section of exemplar Welsh businesses that have shown a commitment to investing in an all-age workforce to feature in the campaign. It will combine radio and digital advertising and downloadable advice guides and toolkits to illustrate to employers the tangible business benefits of creating a skilled, effective, multi-generational workforce.

 Commenting on the launch of this campaign and highlighting why it has never been more important for companies to recognise how valuable their older worker are.

Skills and Science Minister, Julie James, said:

“Older workers are vital for the future prosperity of our economy and our businesses. Retaining people, developing their skills throughout their working life and recruiting older workers has never been more critical to business survival as well as growth.

“Our workforce in Wales is getting older and young people joining the labour market will not fill all of the vacancies. This campaign is designed to encourage all employers – but particularly SMEs where the loss of skills and cost of recruitment can be more consequential – that they need older workers to survive and grow.

“We hope it will reinforce the issue to Welsh businesses of all sizes and give them practical advice on how they can manage and retain the skills and experience of their older workers, and appeal to the market of older recruits.”

For employers looking for more information on how they can invest in the skills of their older workers, the Welsh Government’s Skills Gateway for Business – https://businesswales.gov.wales/skillsgateway/ has a range of advice and guidance.