Vocational Qualification (VQ) Awards finalist Reagan Locke’s passion for technical laboratory work with employer Tata Steel Strip Products UK in Port Talbot has already seen him travel to the company’s Holland plant as lead technician in an X-Ray Fluorescence improvement project and to Germany to further his analysis.
During his three years with Tata at their Technical Laboratories, he has successfully gained a Higher National Certificate in Applied Chemistry (Distinction) under the guidance of Gower College Swansea, allowing him to move straight into a second year part-time degree course in Chemistry at Swansea University.
He has applied his HNC knowledge to create competency assessments at Tata, improving calibration, accuracy and precision of XRF, leading to cost savings.
Last year 22-year-old Reagan was runner-up in the Institute of Minerals, Materials and Mining’s technician of the year award, and he has also travelled to Holland on an Erasmus+ trip where he worked as part of an international team on comparing and contrasting methods of analytical testing.
His efforts have been recognised as a finalist in the Higher Learner of the Year category of this year’s VQ Awards, which are designed to reward individuals and organisations for their commitment, hard work and achievements.
Tata section manager Peter Barnes said of Reagan: “He brings a can-do attitude to work. One of his key achievements has been preparing a programme of asbestos removal and has demonstrated great initiative. He has hit the ground running and as he consolidates his technical and professional skills he will have a promising career ahead.”
Reagan said of his nomination: “I am pleased that my passion for technical laboratory work and my contribution to my department, working on projects alone or as part of a team has been recognised, and I find the work very rewarding.”
Reagan’s lecturer at Gower College Swansea, Amy Herbert, has been full of praise for the way in which he has grown so quickly into a key member of staff for Tata.
“He has developed a tremendous appetite for learning to further his career, and I am sure there is a very bright future ahead for Reagan,” said Amy.
Now in their 12th year, the VQ Awards celebrate those who use technical, practical and vocational qualifications to achieve success. A Vocational Qualification – VQ- award is a symbol of dedication towards your chosen profession. The awards help us to celebrate those Welsh learners, trainers and employers who are already going that extra mile when it comes to developing vocational skills and qualifications.
There are four award categories – VQ Intermediate Learner of the Year, VQ Higher Learner of the Year, VQ Trainer of the Year and VQ Employer of the Year – which encompass the spectrum of learning, training and employment.
Also shortlisted finalists in the Higher category are Charlotte O’Brien and Jonathan Thomas.
The winners will be announced at a prestigious awards ceremony held at the National Museum Cardiff on May 15. The ceremony coincides with VQ Day, which celebrates vocational achievement and the benefits of technical, practical and vocational learning to both the individual and the Welsh economy.
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.
Picture caption: VQ Higher Learner of the Year category finalist, Reagan Locke.