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Welsh Employers and Learners Recognised in Training Company’s New Awards


This year’s marks the 10th anniversary of the Vocational Qualification (VQ) Awards, which celebrate those who use technical, practical and vocational qualifications to achieve success, will officially recognise the contribution of trainers for the first time.

An award for trainer of the year joins the three existing award categories – employer of the year, intermediate learner of the year and higher level learner of the year.

The awards coincide with VQ Day on 7 June, a celebration of vocational qualifications for learners, trainers, and employers.

The new VQ Trainer of the Year Award recognises individual trainers who have made a telling contribution to supporting learners in the workplace to achieve excellence whilst also constantly improving their own skills and knowledge.

Linda Thomas, Coleg Sir Gâr’s chief hospitality lecturer and Sector Skills Champion, has welcomed the introduction of the new award.

“I think it’s fantastic,” she said. “Trainers put in so many hours and so much hard work which isn’t seen by the public. We don’t do it for publicity, but it’s nice to be recognised.

“I have always aspired to achieve the highest standards and encourage my learners to do the same. The person who will receive this new award means that they have reached a high standard.”

Linda is the mentor of star learner Elizabeth Forkuoh, 20, who not only won the VQ Learner of the Year Intermediate Award last year but also recently collected British Education Awards for Wales and Great Britain and is competing to represent the UK in restaurant services at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017.

Elizabeth is one of many learners, including Hannah Bagshaw who was selected for the WorldSkills UK squad in patisserie three years ago, who have benefited from Linda’s tutelage and passion for the hospitality industry.

During her 37-year-career Linda has been a pastry chef at some of London’s top hotels, including the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane and the Hyde Park Hotel, Knightsbridge. She has also worked in Oman and been a product development chef for Bowyers in Plymouth.

She returned to Coleg Sir Gâr, where her training began 25 years ago, and uses her knowledge and excellent network of contacts in the hospitality industry to arrange placements for learners at five star hotels and restaurants across the UK.

Linda from Tumble near Llanelli, counts herself very fortunate to have been trained by “professional, dedicated and knowledgeable” tutors at Coleg Sir Gâr when she began her career and welcomed the creation of the new VQ award to recognise the contribution of trainers.

Reflecting on star learner Elizabeth’s achievements to date, she said it was obvious from the first time they met that she was a perfect competitor. “She is determined to succeed and in every single competition she has entered, she has won a gold medal. To win a British Education Award is a massive achievement,” she added

The VQ awards offer individuals and organisations the chance to be recognised and rewarded for their commitment, hard work and achievements. Nominations close on April 21 and the finalists in each category will be shortlisted and announced in early May. For more information about the awards and access to the nomination form please visit

The awards ceremony will be held at St David’s Hotel, Cardiff on 6 June, the eve of VQ Day on 7 June which is a celebration of vocational qualifications for learners, teachers, training providers and employers.

Colleges and learning providers across Wales are being encouraged to organise regional events to celebrate VQ Day and engage with learners of all ages.

The awards are part funded by the Welsh Government with the support of the European Social Fund, Qualifications Wales, National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) and ColegauCymru/CollegesWales.


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