Support engineer Daren Chesworth, who says an apprenticeship has changed his life, has been named Higher Apprentice of the Year.
Daren, 30, who lives in Garden Village, Wrexham, collected the coveted award at the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport earlier this month.
His reaction to winning the award was:
“I’m a bit speechless. The award makes everything worthwhile. I’m the first apprentice at Transcontinental AC UK Ltd and hopefully the first of many.
“I hope this has been a good learning curve for the business and encourages them to take on more apprentices.”
The annual awards are designed to showcase and celebrate the outstanding achievements of learners, employers, tutors and assessors who have excelled in contributing to the development of the Welsh Government’s Traineeships and Apprenticeship Programmes.
Jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), the coveted awards are supported by media partner, Media Wales. The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.
Daren started work at Transcontinental AC UK Ltd in Wrexham after being made redundant as a plumber, with a family to support.
Thanks to an Apprenticeship pathway, he has been transformed from an unskilled worker to a support engineer, working as part of a multi-departmental team on various projects.
As a trainee multi-skilled maintenance technician, Daren became Transcontinental AC UK Ltd’s first ever apprentice and achieved his Apprenticeship in Engineering Manufacture through Coleg Cambria.
He then progressed to a Higher Apprenticeship (Level 4) and a degree in Industrial Engineering (Mechatronics) with Honours, putting the knowledge and skills he had learnt into practice in the workplace.
He is now aspiring to become a Chartered Engineer and maintenance engineering expert through post-graduate research studies. He will shortly complete his Master of Philosophy before embarking on further studies for an MBA.
The knowledge he has gained enabled him to present a research paper on new maintenance techniques at the International Industry 4.0 Summit in March. He is developing a ‘smart’ maintenance strategy and has introduced a new procedure for testing transfer pumps, which is set to save his employer more than £20,000 a year in lost production.
“The Apprenticeship has provided me with a platform to develop a career in a subject which I am passionate about,” said Daren, who praised his employer and Coleg Cambria for their support. “I want to pass on my experience to others in the hope of being able to show that an Apprenticeship really can change your life.”
Dr Keith Vidamour, Transcontinental AC UK Ltd’s engineering manager, said:
“From the outset, it was made clear the high expectations the company had of their apprentice and Daren has matched and surpassed these.
“To win the award is absolutely fantastic. Daren has worked hard and he has got what he deserved.”
Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan congratulated Daren and the other award winners and finalists for setting the gold standard for Apprenticeships and Traineeships.
She described him as an “exceptional individual” who had excelled in his workplace and applauded his commitment to the Apprenticeships Programme in Wales.
“The Welsh Government regards Apprenticeships as a priority area and, with support from the European Social Fund, has committed to creating a minimum of 100,000 high quality all-age Apprenticeships over this Assembly term,” said the Minister.
“We have a clear vision for addressing the needs of Welsh businesses, developing skills pathways and increasing higher level skills that benefit the whole of Wales. If the Welsh economy is to continue to grow, then we must work together to equip Wales with a world class workforce.”