“Little Inspirations is a shining example of how a nursery should run and how staff should be engaged in apprenticeships. It’s not a tick box exercise, but something which has true value behind it and is promoted from director level all the way down within the organisation.”
So says Kristina Brockaway, customer account manager at Vocational Skills Partnership (Educ8), when nominating Llantrisant-based Little Inspirations for this year’s Vocational Qualification (VQ) Awards in Wales.
Organised by the Welsh Government in partnership with the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), ColegauCymru / CollegesWales and Qualifications Wales, the awards are designed to reward individuals and organisations for their commitment, hard work and achievements.
Little Inspirations has been shortlisted for the VQ Employer of the Year award, which will be presented at a ceremony to be held at The Exchange Hotel, Cardiff on May 3 to coincide with VQ Day.
Kristina’s comments are backed up by ‘outstanding’ reports from the Care Inspectorate Wales and each Little Inspirations nursery has been highly commended by the Welsh Pre-school Providers Association.
“This is an employer who gives people a chance to succeed in life. People from all backgrounds are provided with opportunities and they are truly inspired to be the best they can possibly be,” added Kristina.
Little Inspirations has grown from 70 employees to more than 100 in the past five years and now has six nursery sites – Llantrisant, Rhydfelin, Barry, Newport and Penywaun. Eighty per cent of the workforce is either working towards or in receipt of qualifications ranging from level two to level 5 Higher Apprenticeships in Child Care and Education and Playwork.
The driving force behind the business is managing director Jenine Gill who leads by example and encourages all staff to engage in vocational qualifications. She and all the senior management team have completed Higher Apprenticeships at level 5.
As Little Inspirations has grown, staff have been promoted internally, creating new opportunities throughout the business for all staff.
“Our staff retention is excellent and our average employment term is over 10 years, whereas the average for the industry is two,” said Jenine. “This has allowed us to retain and gain customers, which has led to growth opportunities and job security.”
The VQ Employer of the Year Award focuses on employers who promote the value of vocational qualifications in the workplace and make a real contribution to improving the skills and national competitiveness.
In addition to the award ceremony, learning providers across Wales are being encouraged to organise regional events that engage with learners of all ages on VQ Day.
Vocational qualifications are important to the economy, companies and individuals, as they deliver the trained, talented employees that businesses are crying out for and ensure young people have the skills needed to succeed in education and work.
Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan said: “A VQ award is a symbol of dedication towards a chosen profession, demonstrating to others a real commitment towards personal and professional development.
“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.”
The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.
Managing director Jenine Gill and commercial manager Neil Blockley with children at Little Inspirations.