A talented young South Wales cook has added a Vocational Qualification (VQ) Award for Wales to her growing list of honours.
Alys Evans, 18, from Gilfach Goch, Rhondda Cynon Taf, was named the VQ Intermediate Learner of the Year at an awards ceremony held at St David’s Hotel, Cardiff on Tuesday night, the eve of VQ Day in Wales.
Her passion and skill in the art of cake baking and decorating has put her on a successful career path that has seen her head to Barcelona for work experience in a Japanese/Catalonian patisserie.
Over the past two years, Alys, who is working towards a level three qualification in Patisserie and Confectionery at Coleg y Cymoedd in Nantgarw, has won a series of gold, silver and bronze awards at the Welsh International Culinary Championships for her cupcakes, celebration cakes and novelty cakes.
This year, she received a gold City & Guilds medal for outstanding achievement and a gold at Cake International in London for her celebration cake. She also landed a £1,000 award to help develop her baking and decorating skills and prepare her for a future career in the industry.
She attributes her passion for baking to cooking with both her grandmothers from an early age and is grateful to staff at Coleg y Cymoedd for all learning opportunities they have provided. “I have always baked with my nans and it feels that it’s something I was born to do,” explained Alys.
She plans to continue her development in college by taking a level four qualification, which includes a management element, before gaining industry experience as a patisserie chef. She eventually wants to run her own mobile cake and cupcakes business, plans to become a member of the Culinary Association of Wales and would love to compete with Culinary Team Wales in the future.
“The award was totally unexpected and it’s so nice that people have recognised all the hard work that I have put in,” said Alys. “I have won previous competitions but this prestigious award means so much to me.
“Vocational learning has provided me with so many skills and great opportunities with the best quality training possible.”
Coleg y Cymoedd’s entrepreneurship champion Lesley Cottrell said: “Alys continues to amaze us. She is talented not only in terms of her baking, but also in her business acumen.”
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.”
Alys was one of 12 finalists competing for the 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.
Alys Evans receives her VQ Award from Ann Evans (left), chair of Qualifications Wales and Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James watched by compere Sian Lloyd.