The docks and marina supervisor at the Port of Milford Haven was a proud winner at the Vocational Qualification (VQ) Awards for Wales.
Melanie Durney collected the VQ Learner of the Year Higher Level Award at the ceremony held at St David’s Hotel and Spa, Cardiff on Tuesday night, the eve of VQ Day. The awards are organised by the Welsh Government, the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) and ColegauCymru / CollegesWales.
“I am thrilled to win the award,” she said. “It’s not only a personal achievement but an achievement for the Port of Milford Haven as a whole. I would like to thank the Port of Milford Haven, my colleagues, Pembrokeshire College and everyone involved in the VQ Awards.
“This award shows that vocational qualifications are effective, help you to progress in the workplace and I hope it encourages others to do the same.”
Melanie strives to make things happen, fast. She drew on her background in business finance to fulfil a lifelong ambition and joined the Port of Milford Haven as docks administrator. Five years on, she and her team are heading up a multi-million pound regeneration project set to bring jobs, boost tourism and create a brighter economic future for her beloved home town.
Melanie’s professional progress has been meteoric. Before her Level 4 NVQ in Business and Administration was even complete, promotion to docks co-ordinator came calling and she went on to achieve a Level 5 NVQ in Management last December.
Melanie has gone from supervising a team of four to having line management duties for 15 staff, including personnel from the port’s commercial dock and marina staff. She also managed customer relationships during the installation of a new set of Lock Gates – a once in a decade project – and in 2015 became Manager of the Year after nomination from colleagues.
“The Port of Milford Haven has played such a huge part in the town’s history and growing up I knew lots of people working here and always wanted to be involved,” she said. “I’m really passionate about the changes taking place here and take them very seriously on behalf of my local community.
“Continuing my learning while working has ensured that I’m up-to-date on best practice and processes within the sector and, more importantly, able to bring much more into the role and the wider business.
“I want to progress in my career and learning will be a big part of that, whether on the job or through studies. It’s important to keep learning and adapting and vocational qualifications are one way of achieving that.”
Her next goal is to progress to a Higher Apprenticeship at NVQ Level 7 – postgraduate level – in management.
Crediting the support of her team, manager and Pembrokeshire College assessor Glenys Francis with her success to date, Melanie is now focused on providing vocational opportunities to other staff members. She is also committed to helping ensure plans set to create further economic and social advantages for the wider region become reality as soon as possible.
She was one of 10 finalists in VQ Awards, which celebrate the achievements of both learners and employers across Wales. There were two other finalists in her category, which recognises individuals who clearly demonstrate progression and excellence in vocational studies and have made considerable achievements in their field thanks to vocational qualifications.
Minister of Skills and Science Julie James congratulated the 10 finalists and praised everyone who had been nominated for the VQ Awards this year. “Vocational skills have a huge impact on the Welsh economy and we value the gold standard of vocational learning being delivered to people right across Wales,” she said.
“Both VQ Day and the VQ Awards provide the perfect opportunity for us to celebrate not only the high standard of technical, practical and vocational learning being delivered in Wales, but also the many personal successes and achievements of our learners.
“High quality VQs are essential to provide individuals and businesses with the skills, experience, motivation and inspiration they need to get ahead. Ultimately it is only with appropriately skilled and trained people that we can drive forward the Welsh economy.
“Many of our VQ Award finalists this year have demonstrated that they are marked out as future leaders or ambitious entrepreneurs and have an eye on making sound business decisions and increasing productivity.”
Now in their ninth year, the awards coincided with VQ Day on June 8, a celebration of the benefits and value of high quality technical, practical and vocational learning to individuals and to the economy. There were also awards for VQ Employer of the Year and VQ Learner of the Year Intermediate Level.
VQ Learner of the Year Higher Level Award winner Melanie Durney with Judith Evans, CollegesWales chair, Sarah John, NTfW interim chair, Huw Morris, the Welsh Government’s director of skills, higher education and lifelong learning and compere Sian Lloyd.