The work of Aspire Blaenau Gwent will be recognised at next month’s Apprenticeship Awards Cymru, the annual celebration of outstanding achievement in training and apprenticeships.
After identifying a shortage of skilled workers, Aspire Blaenau Gwent set about plugging the gap through a Shared Apprenticeship Programme that is breathing new life into the local workforce.
The practice of rotating apprentices amongst host employers is well established within the local authority and it is enabling apprentices to fulfil any skills gaps by working and achieving units towards their NVQ with other organisations that are experts within that area.
Aspire Blaenau Gwent has been shortlisted for the Large Employer of the Year Award, which will be presented at a high-profile ceremony at the new International Convention Centre Wales, Newport on October 24.
Thirty-four finalists in a dozen categories are in the running for the prestigious awards which showcase the successes of the best learners, employers, tutors and assessors in Wales who have excelled in contributing to the development of the Welsh Government’s Traineeship and Apprenticeship programmes.
Jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru has Openreach, the UK’s digital network business, as its premier sponsor this year. The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.
Since 2015, Ebbw Vale-based Aspire has tailored courses and arranged training to suit the needs of learners by providing additional opportunities in one of the most impoverished areas of Wales.
To date, it boasts an impressive 100% record of apprentices being employed at the end of their programme, with 64% retained by their initial host.
“The Aspire Shared Apprenticeship Programme is hinged on its success of partnership working,” said Tara Lane, Skills Development Manager. “As the project has been developed, the networking and partnership circles have increased. In turn, the opportunities for the apprentices to achieve additional qualifications and to trial varying experiences have been presented.”
Aspire, which works closely with the Welsh Government, Ebbw Vale Enterprise Zone Board and Blaenau Gwent Local Authority, has been developing its training programmes with Coleg y Cymoedd.
“The Apprenticeship Programme has successfully engaged with 70 apprentices across multiple Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics pathways, developing a shared apprenticeship that has engaged over 20 employers in a region where apprenticeships engagement was non-existent,” said Matthew Tucker, Assistant Principal at Coleg y Cymoedd.
“We consider this to be a sector leading partnership which has been so successful that it has been replicated in other local authority areas to address similar skills shortages.”
To ensure sustainability, Aspire aims to work with more employers and local authorities to increase the demand for apprentices as well as reviewing funding options for the future.
Minister for the Economy and Transport, Ken Skates, congratulated Aspire Blaenau Gwent and all the other shortlisted finalists.
“Our Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship and Traineeship programmes are helping increasing numbers of people to gain the skills and experience that we know businesses across all sectors of the economy in Wales really need,” he said.
“The Apprenticeship Awards Cymru provides an excellent opportunity to celebrate and showcase the achievements of everyone involved in those programmes from our star apprentices and employers, to learning providers and trainees.”