Flintshire aerospace engineering business Electroimpact UK Ltd has become the first business to win two Vocational Qualification (VQ) Awards for Wales in the same year.
The company, which has a base in Hawarden, collected the coveted VQ Employer of the Year award and its UK manufacturing lead Matthew Booth was named VQ Trainer of the Year at the annual awards ceremony held at St David’s Hotel, Cardiff on Tuesday night, the eve of VQ Day in Wales.
Matthew, who collected both awards, said:
“I am just overwhelmed because I wasn’t expecting to win one award. It shows what hard work can give you.
“We are world leaders at what we do and training apprentices is a major factor in our success. We provide the best, so we expect the best from our workforce. The future holds more apprentices and more training – the sky’s the limit.”
Investment in work-based learning has helped Electroimpact UK Ltd grow its workshop by more than 50 per cent more than planned and led to national and international awards for its skilled apprentices.
The company immersed its employees in the opportunities provided by vocational qualifications four years ago. Matthew completed a Higher Apprenticeship (Level 4) in Leadership so that he could lead by example before introducing the training to apprentices and employees.
“I finished my apprenticeship 20 years ago, so it was great for me to keep learning and to also show our apprentices that you can always learn new skills and better yourself,” he said.
The company, which employs 150 staff, currently has five of its 10 machine room employees working towards or in receipt of vocational qualifications.
“Vocational training has allowed us to get an extremely skilled workforce. Our skilled apprentices have gone on to win national competitions and awards as well as international competitions while representing our company and country,” added Matthew.
Electroimpact UK Ltd had apprentices at WorldSkills UK competitions for the past two years, winning two gold, one silver and a bronze medal. One apprentice went to the EuroSkills finals in Sweden, winning a medallion of excellence.
The company has worked with training provider Coleg Cambria to deliver its training.
“Electroimpact is a model of how a company should use vocational training,” said Vicky Barwis, director at Coleg Cambria. “The apprentices, although part of a small cohort, receive world class training and additional mentoring and coaching to achieve excellence in skills competitions as well as achieving high marks in their qualifications.”
Matthew, from Brymbo near Wrexham, began his career as an apprentice toolmaker and undertook training while developing his career. He has also gained his EngTech accreditation though IMechE and has also worked with SEMTA, a body promoting STEM subjects in the UK, to develop a Master Craftsman qualification.
Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James congratulated all the award winners and finalists.
“A vocational qualification – VQ award is a symbol of dedication towards your chosen profession,” she said. “The awards help us to celebrate those Welsh employers, learners and trainers who are already going that extra mile when it comes to developing vocational skills and qualifications.
“If the Welsh economy is to continue to grow then we must ensure that employers, individuals, training providers and the Welsh Government work together to invest in the right skills for success in order to equip Wales with a world-class workforce.
“Vocational qualifications have never been more important to the economy and the individual, as they deliver the trained, talented employees that businesses are crying out for and ensure individuals have the skills needed to succeed in education and work.”
Matthew and Electroimpact UK Ltd were two of 12 finalists shortlisted for VQ Awards, which celebrate those who use technical, practical and vocational qualifications to achieve success.
The awards are organised by the Welsh Government, National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), ColegauCymru / CollegesWales and Qualifications Wales. The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.