The cream of the crop have been recognised during this year’s celebration of vocational qualifications excellence at the Vocational Qualifications (VQ) Awards 2019. The awards ceremony, the ‘BAFTA’s’ of the VQ world, was held at the National Museum in Cardiff when the names of the winners were revealed.
Now in their 12th year, the coveted VQ Awards celebrate those who use technical, practical and vocational qualifications to achieve success. The award is a symbol of dedication towards a chosen profession. The awards help to celebrate those Welsh learners, trainers and employers who are already going that extra mile when it comes to developing vocational skills and qualifications.
A dozen finalists were shortlisted in the four VQ Award categories, with the results as follows:
The VQ Learner of the Year – Intermediate Award – Collette Gorvett.
Competitive, committed and the desire to be the best sums up Collette Gorvett’s attitude towards learning. Her three-year progression at Gower College Swansea from Level 1 Diploma in Professional Cookery through to Level 3 Diploma in Advanced Professional Cookery Kitchen and Larder has been exemplary and was recognised as she won the College’s Hospitality Student of the Year award in 2018. Her involvement in Welsh, UK and European Skills competitions have added to her achievements and make her an outstanding advocate for vocational learning.
Her learning journey has been relentless, and her training provider believes that her achievements are inspiring others to succeed.
“Collette has been an incredible role model and ambassador,” said Mark Clement, learning area manager at Gower College Swansea. “She has supported the Inspiring Skills project by performing demonstrations to lecturing staff at numerous Welsh colleges. In addition, she has been an inspiration to all upcoming competitors, encouraging them to dedicate themselves to upskilling and openly sharing her competition experience.”
Runners-up: Alex Davies Sketty Primary School, Swansea, whose training provider is Gower College Swansea; and Nia Jones, Cardiff, who works for engineering company Arup, and whose learning providers are Cardiff and Vale College and ALS Training.
The VQ Learner of the Year – Higher Award – Charlotte O’Brien.
Charlotte started her career in the Data Science Campus at the Office for National Statistics in Newport and the completion of a Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship six months ahead of target was recognised by the ONS who rewarded her with a permanent position.
Her passion for maths and economics led her to university, but she quickly decided that vocational study under the guidance of Cardiff-based ALS Training was better suited to her learning needs and she has not looked back. Charlotte now helps present training courses to ONS staff and has become a STEM Ambassador for ONS.
Her own learning path has taken her on a second year Open University degree in Maths and Economics and hopefully a place on the inaugural Degree Apprenticeship in Applied Data Science later this year.
Data Science Campus ONS, Academic Manager Alison Adams said of Charlotte: “Her journey through the apprenticeship to gaining a permanent position with ONS has been inspirational. Charlotte is focused and driven with clear career goals. She radiates positivity and has a zest for life.”
Runners-up: Jonathan Thomas, DAS Legal Expenses Insurance Co Ltd, Caerphilly, whose learning provider is ALS Training; and Reagan Locke, Tata Steel, Port Talbot, whose learning provider is Gower College Swansea.
The VQ Trainer of the Year Award – Louisa Mallett.
Tutoring for the past seven years at ACT Limited in Cardiff, Louisa’s mantra is to develop the person alongside the practical training. Louisa has honed an incredible ability to build rapport with her learners and pick up on any underlying barriers they may be facing. Louisa is able to understand their needs and create an appropriate and achievable action plan for her learners to follow.
Louisa has created an online well-being booklet signposting learners to support on symptoms of stress and anxiety. As part of her digitally-led workshops, Louisa has introduced Nearpods, an interactive classroom tool that develops literacy skills as well as allowing learners to go at their own pace.
Louisa said: “My personal drive is to make a difference. Real learning does not take place without an emotional connection and innovative thinking.”
Runners-up: Anna Bell, Itec Skills and Employment, Cardiff; and Mark Shaw, Coleg Cambria, Deeside.
The VQ Employer of the Year Award – Scarlet Knight.
Two former apprentices have forged a formidable husband and wife partnership that is bringing through a new generation of well-trained and qualified professionals at their successful hair and beauty business – Scarlet Knight.
Scarlet Knight puts each of its employees through apprenticeships and has gained an excellent reputation for providing high-quality treatments supported by outstanding customer service for its clientele from Rhondda Cynon Taff and beyond.
Created by Charlotte and John Knight, the company has grown to 15 employees and places work-based training at the core of its business, working with ISA Training to offer six Level 2 and 3 NVQs.
The company’s staff-focused approach has sculpted a team of dedicated employees who are encouraged to continue their training in order to progress their own career paths.
“Since 2012, we have helped numerous individuals gain a career within the hair and beauty industry. Some of which have stayed with us in full-time employment and others have had the confidence to go and start up their own business,” said Charlotte, who started her own vocational journey in 2007 by taking NVQ Level 3 Apprenticeships in Hairdressing and Management.
“The candidates who have stayed with us have progressed on to become team leaders and managers and still thrive today under our guidance and mentoring.”
Runners-up: Deloitte LLP, Cardiff, whose learning provider is Cardiff and Vale College; and St Cyres School, Penarth, whose learning provider is Portal Training.
The Awards ceremony coincided with VQ Day, which celebrates vocational achievement and the benefits of technical, practical and vocational learning to both the individual and the Welsh economy.
Minister for Education Kirsty Williams said:
”Work-based skills are more important than ever, equipping learners with the skills and experience they and their employers need within the modern workforce.
“The awards set the gold standard for Vocational Qualifications in Wales and reward our outstanding learners, businesses that are committed to developing their staff and trainers who work with passion and always go the extra mile.
“Each of the finalists and winners should be extremely proud and I would like to congratulate them all on their achievements.”
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.