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Construction Academy Helps Welshpool Company win Judges’ Special Award

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An innovative company that has formed a training academy in partnership with a high school to attract more young people into the construction industry was a winner at the Powys Business Awards.

Welshpool-based SWG Group collected a Judges’ Special Award sponsored by Mid Wales Manufacturing Group at the awards ceremony in Newtown on Friday night.

Organised by Mid Wales Manufacturing Group, Powys Business Awards showcase business excellence across the county.

After receiving the award, Jacqui Gough, a director of SWG Group, said:

“We couldn’t me more pleased to win the Judges’ Special Award. It’s great to be recognised for developing the next generation of construction workers in our home county.”

SWG Group, which has a workforce of 48, launched The SWG Construction Academy in partnership with Ysgol Llanfyllin in September last year to encourage more young people to consider a career in the construction industry, which has lost workers due to a combination of the pandemic and Brexit.

The academy delivers a GCSE in Construction and the Built Environment to students who receive tuition from industry experts in a range of different construction skills. Some students gain hands-on experience working on SWG Group’s construction sites.

During lockdown, lessons were taught online and students were helped with writing CVs and mock interviews.

The number of students interested in the course increased from 12 to 23 after Jacqui Gough addressed a school assembly.

Robi Wood, director of learning for technology at Ysgol Llanfyllin, said:

“There is a buzz about the academy. The link with a professional company means a lot to the students and parents. It is a career progression opportunity rather than just doing a GCSE.”

Headteacher Dewi Owen is now hoping to form a similar partnership with other innovative companies to offer students an insight into other industries.

SWG Group director Jason Morrissey said:

“In a time when the focus of so many school leavers is on IT-related disciplines, it is refreshing to see students showing an interest in construction work. It’s heart-warming and seeing their interest only strengthens my will to get involved.”

Powys Business Awards judges said:

“The SWG Construction Academy is a shining example of what can be achieved by simple collaboration, by businesses and schools working together to provide opportunities locally to access vocational career options.

“It reduces the chances of losing our young people across the border and provides a skilled future workforce for employers in Powys.”