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Education

Coleg Sir Gar students triumph at World Skills

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Flying the flag: Elizabeth Forkuoh

TEAM UK retained its top-10 position at WorldSkills this year, after competitors won one gold, three silvers, three bronzes, and 13 medallions of excellence in Abu Dhabi.

And for the Welsh contingent, there was well-deserved success with chef-de-rang Elizabeth Forkuoh from Carmarthenshire representing Coleg Sir Gâr, who won a medal of excellence for her world-class skills in restaurant services at WorldSkills, Abu Dhabi.

Around 10,000 competitors, skills experts, officials and supporters from 60 countries and regions around the world looked on as the 44th WorldSkills competition – the first to take place in the Middle East – was opened.

UWTSD’s Gareth Evans, who is the centre co-ordinator at Construction Wales Innovation Centre, was the appointed WorldSkills UK expert for carpentry at the prestigious competition. This highly coveted role enabled Gareth join the WorldSkills UK training team for WorldSkills, the world’s largest international skills competition. Gareth undertook this appointment alongside his role at the Construction Wales Innovation Centre, which is funded by the CITB and is part of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

Gareth had responsibility for training Cameron Nutt, an apprentice from Northern Ireland who represented the UK in carpentry at WorldSkills. During the event, Gareth was also an international judge for the carpentry competition, which saw over 20 apprentices compete from many countries including Australia, South Korea and Germany.

To qualify for this position, Gareth, who himself won many national and international accolades as a competitor, had to demonstrate his knowledge and experience of teaching standards in construction both in the UK and internationally.

Backing Team UK and the Welsh contingency was Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion principal Barry Liles who in his role as Skills Champion for Wales and in partnership with the Welsh Government-funded Inspiring Skills Excellence project, ensured the Welsh contingency was supported throughout their competition journey.

Barry Liles said: “WorldSkills is an extravaganza of an event which replicates the Olympic Games, showcasing the very best of skills from young people around the world who have been through a rigorous competition journey.

“For me, being part of WorldSkills is crucial in not only raising aspirations of our young people but raising their skills levels, for Wales to take a competitive stand in a global economy.

“I was thrilled to see Elizabeth win a medal of excellence as she’s trained phenomenally hard, as have all our competitors.

“Witnessing Team UK, the Welsh squad and Coleg Sir Gâr competitors on the world stage will always be a very proud moment for me.”

Gareth Evans said: “Attending the WorldSkills competition in Abu Dhabi is an excellent experience for any individual. To watch over 1300 competitors from 59 member countries in action during the week was incredible. The commitment and dedication displayed by the competitors in all 51 Skills was amazing. WorldSkills Competitions allow these young people to showcase how skills initially honed through Further and Higher Education courses make such an impact to their lives. Two years ago, my competitor Cameron Nutt from North West Regional College in Northern Ireland completed his Level 3 Diploma in Site Carpentry. Who would have thought that sometime later he would be competing on the world stage, mixing it against 22 other competitors?”

Elizabeth Forkuoh, a hospitality, supervision and leadership student at Coleg Sir Gâr and former pupil of Coedcae Comprehensive School, represented the college within Team UK at the largest international skills Olympics.

The journey towards Team UK selection has been a life-changing experience for Elizabeth and also for Alfie Hopkin who represented the college competing in the web design competition.

Elizabeth steadily rose through the competition ranks whilst at college and made such significant headway in UKSkills competitions, she received employment offers from some of the top restaurants in the country. As a result, she now works for Gleneagles in Scotland, one of the best restaurants in the UK for customer care and food service. She also underwent professional training at The Ritz, completed a wine appreciation course in London and attended a training event in Taiwan. She also won a British Education award when she was at college and working part-time at the Stradey Park Hotel.

Alfie Hopkin, a former Ysgol Glan y Mor student, is studying a computing and IT level three diploma at Coleg Sir Gâr. Throughout his competition journey, Alfie received significant training from the college and UKSkills to prepare him for the Abu Dhabi event including design training at James Good, JavaScript and Clientside training in Norway and pressure testing in Brazil.

Elizabeth and Alfie were two out of four competitors representing Wales within Team UK.

Elizabeth said: “It’s been hard work over the last few years but with the support of my employer and trainer, I have given my best and I definitely know that fine dining is where I belong.”

Speaking about the UK team, Gareth added: “By competing at the event, the UK team showcased the great level of excellence and technical knowledge displayed by young people in the UK. Furthermore, it also showcases the excellent level of training provided by UK’s Education Establishments. We at the Construction Wales Innovation Centre and The University of Wales Trinity Saint David are proud to have played a part in the World-Class training required by Team UK competitors in the run-up to WorldSkills Abu Dhabi. We are also looking forward to support the Team further in the run up to WorldSkills Kazan 2019.”

He added: “Having been a competitor myself in Team UK, and winning Gold in Carpentry at two National Competitions. I know how the preparation and the experience of competing enables apprentices to gain the high level employability skills that will drive the construction industry forward. I’m so pleased to have supported these young people to achieve their goals and strive for excellence. ”

Emphasising the importance of promoting skills excellence at all levels Gerald Naylor, the Director of the Construction Wales Innovation Centre said the Centre will continue to support Gareth in his competition work. Gerald is also keen to see the Coleg Sir Gar development of the new construction technical & professional skills competition supported by UWTSD, the Construction industry Training Board and the Chartered Institution of Building.

Education

Apprentices deserve better financial support

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More and better funding: Committee calls for better deal for apprentices

APPRENTICES in Wales should have similar access to financial support as University students.

That’s the main finding from the Assembly’s Economy Infrastructure and Skills Committee, which published its latest report on Apprenticeships in Wales on Thursday​ (Feb 14)​.

Committee Chair, Russell George AM, said: “Parity of esteem between vocational and academic routes needs to be underpinned by parity of support for learners.

“There is a strong moral case for the Welsh Government to apply similar levels of support to apprentices as would be available to their peers in full-time education.”

The Welsh Government has this week launched an advertising campaign to promote a new package of measures for university students which it describes as ​’​the most generous student support package in the UK​’​.

While apprentices receive a wage while they train, they are not eligible for the support available to students, which can make being an apprentice seem less attractive.

The Committee heard that some young people are deterred from entering apprenticeships by the initial costs involved. These can be relatively minor sums of money to travel to interviews, or the first few weeks of work before they get paid.

The Committee’s work found that while there is much that is positive about Apprenticeships in Wales there were a few surprises.

Mr George added: “We were surprised that the number of disabled apprentices in Wales was far below the rate achieved in England.

“We were also concerned that a lack of providers may be preventing young people undertaking apprenticeships through the medium of Welsh.

“There is still a stubborn gender segregation when we talk about apprenticeships. Both the Welsh Government and stakeholders are committed to address this, and are taking steps to do so, but progress has been slow. This issue is not unique to Wales.

“We are recommending annual publication of figures to maintain pressure and ensure that apprenticeships in Wales are available to all.”

The Committee also looked at the role of careers guidance for young people – particularly in schools – to ensure they are being made aware of vocational as well as academic options.

Mr George added: “During the course of our investigation we heard concerns about the way careers advice is delivered in schools. Our additional scrutiny in this area has given us assurance that Careers Wales has a credible plan, and is working closely with the Welsh Government and schools to address these issues. We will keep an eye on whether this proves successful.​”​

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Education

Minister visits adult learning initiative

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Eluned Morgan: Inspired by visit to Monkton School

WELSH Language and Lifelong Learning Minister, Eluned Morgan visited Monkton Primary School in Pembrokeshire on Friday, February 9, to hear more about a successful community adult learning initiative run from the school.

Started in September 2012 with support from the Welsh Government, the Launch Project aims to raise adults’ skills standards and education attainment within the community by making learning accessible to everyone.

Both accredited and non-accredited courses and workshops are delivered at the school and other community venues and have been specifically designed to remove barriers so that people in the community can gain the confidence and skills needed to seek employment.

The provision has also been designed to cater for a wide range of learner needs, from basic skills and IT courses to various accredited courses including a foundation degree in Education and Social Inclusion.

During the visit the Minister met with some of the adult learners who have benefitted from the project and heard their personal accounts about how it has helped them to turn their lives around, gain new skills and seize new employment opportunities.

Speaking after the visit, Minister said: “This project is a great example of a community-driven learning initiative that has been designed by the community for the community and I applaud Monkton Primary School for its pivotal role in that.

“The school is clearly committed to lifelong learning and building an ethos of working and learning together, built on mutual respect between adults and children.

“It was also inspiring hearing from those who have benefitted from the project and seeing first hand the positive impact it has had on their lives and their confidence.”

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Education

Extra investment in 21st Century Schools

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Announced £100m extra: Kirsty Williams

£100​M ​is to be invested over the next three years to accelerate the delivery of the flagship 21st Century Schools and Education programme, Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams and Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning Eluned Morgan ​has said.

An extra £75m, has been allocated to the 21st Century Schools and Education Programme a major, long-term and strategic capital investment programme to modernise education infrastructure.

In addition, £30m will be released from the programme in future years for immediate investment in capital projects that will contribute to the goal of reaching a million Welsh speakers by 2050. This is a shared priority with Plaid Cymru.

The money will bring the total invested over the life of the programme to almost £3.8bn. The first phase of the programme will finish in 2019 having invested £1.4bn to support the rebuild and refurbishment of more than 150 schools and colleges across Wales. The second phase will see a spend of £2.3bn.

Kirsty Williams said: “Our national mission is to raise standards, reduce the attainment gap and deliver an education system that is a source of national pride and confidence. Our 21st Century Schools and Education Programme plays a key part in this and is the largest investment in our schools and colleges since the 1960s.

“Having a comfortable, modern, fit-for-purpose environment in which to learn is vital to ensuring young people have the best possible education. This extra funding will mean that even more of our students will be able to benefit from having the best possible facilities in their schools and colleges.​”​

Eluned Morgan said: “Reaching a million Welsh speakers by 2050 is a significant challenge and education is key to the success of this ambition. This means we need to invest in new Welsh medium schools and improve and increase the teaching of Welsh in English medium schools. Bringing forward this funding for immediate investment allows us to ensure there is no delay in the work to achieve this target.”

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