Llanelli company’s upskilling strategy endorsed by VQ Award

A Llanelli automotive manufacturer says being named Vocational Qualification (VQ) Employer of the Year for Wales in 2018 was an endorsement of its vision to upskill its entire workforce to future-proof the business.

“Winning the award was an immensely proud moment for the plant,” said Stacey Davies, human resources manager at automotive manufacturer Gestamp Tallent Ltd.

“To be recognised for the early accomplishments of an ambitious but exciting learning and development strategy continues to be very encouraging for all the stakeholders.”

She was speaking at the launch of this year’s VQ Awards at the Senedd in Cardiff. The awards are jointly organised by the Welsh Government, the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), ColegauCymru/CollegesWales, Qualifications Wales and the Education Workforce Council. The Welsh Government’s funding has support from the European Social Fund.

The awards recognise and celebrate exemplar learners, trainers and employers in every part of Wales who have used technical, practical and vocational qualifications to achieve success.

Gestamp’s dedicated ‘Talent Growth Programme’, which assesses skills, knowledge and behaviours through appraisals in association with enhanced job descriptions, creates individual, tailored development plans for all 540 employees.

The company has an all-inclusive approach to providing formal development and qualifications to its employees in partnership with Coleg Sir Gâr. Vocational programmes range from mechanical engineering and welding to coaching, quality improvement and train the trainer, as the company aims to grow and retain its own skilled staff.

Alongside technical programmes, the equally critical Leadership and Management, Developing Leaders and High Potential programmes support those at all levels of leadership within the business, supporting strategic succession plans.

“Winning the VQ Award was the validation and motivation to continue with our philosophy that the Talent Growth Programme was an opportunity for better skills for all,” said Stacey.

Gestamp Tallent continues to reap the rewards of investing in training and developing its workforce. Ninety per cent of the company’s senior management team has been promoted from within the business.

Last year, for the first time, the company gave employees the chance to change career path if they wished and four are now retraining as tool setters and mechanical fitters

Since taking over the Llanelli plant in 2011, Gestamp has transformed its fortunes by investing in the plant and its people. The company is a key supplier to automotive customers including Jaguar Land Rover, Bentley and Honda.

“Vocational qualifications are important to Gestamp in that they provide an opportunity to legitimise all the skills required for working in the manufacturing industry in addition to the mechanical and electrical biases that we so critically require,” explained Stacey.

“As a business we have learned that most manufacturing skills can be attributed to vocational qualifications. For us this includes modern leadership programmes for all entry levels of supervision and managerial roles and we are fortunate to be working with Coleg Sir Gar in the creation and development of programmes for broader manufacturing skills that are specific to some of our niche technologies.

“This year, alongside the continuous improvement of our programmes that we developed during 2017-’18, our vision of the Talent Growth Programme being all encompassing will be well and truly getting off the ground.”

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.

Nominations are now being sought for this year’s VQ Awards which have four categories: VQ Learner of the Year (Intermediate), VQ Learner of the Year (Higher), VQ Trainer of the Year and VQ Employer of the Year.

To enter the awards, just download a nomination form at which has full details. The closing date is noon on March 8.

From the entries, a panel of judges will select the category finalists for a high-profile awards ceremony to be held at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff on May 15 to coincide with VQ Day.

Picture caption:
VQ Employer of the Year 2018 Gestamp Tallent Ltd’s Stacey Davies, Victoria Adams and Lowri Rawlings with Jemma Parsons and Amanda Daniels from Coleg Sir Gâr.

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