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Education

Care is Apprenticeship Ambassador Elen’s true vocation

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ELEN LEWIS is developing a career in health and social care thanks to a bilingual Foundation Apprenticeship opportunity provided by Blaenmarlais Care Home in Narberth.

Elen, 19, who lives in Narberth, believes care is her true vocation and may consider training to become a hospital nurse in the future.

Due to her passion for the Welsh language and apprenticeships, she has been appointed an Apprenticeship Ambassador by Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol (CCC) and the National Training Federation of Wales (NTfW).

Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol leads the development of Welsh medium and bilingual education and training in the post-compulsory sector in Wales and the NTfW represents work-based learning providers across Wales.

She began working at Blaenmarlais Care Home 18 months ago, having previously taken a Health and Social Care Level 3 course at Pembrokeshire College. She is now completing her Foundation Apprenticeship in Health and Social Care through City & Guilds, delivered by the same college and hopes to progress to a Level 3 Apprenticeship.

Happy speaking in both Welsh and English to improve her language skills, Elen said: “I love my job because it’s so rewarding to care for our residents and develop a relationship with them. A couple of them enjoy having a conversation in Welsh.

She is proud to be an Apprenticeship Ambassador because, she says, it gives her a chance to promote the Welsh language: “I like apprenticeships because they allow people to earn while they learn, which is one of the main reasons I was not interested in going to university.

“Welsh medium and bilingual apprenticeships provide an opportunity to learn in the language of your choice and encourages the use of the Welsh language, which is important.

“We have spoken Welsh in my family for generations and it’s a unique language to our country and should be preserved. It’s a real bonus when you go into a job and you have an opportunity to speak both Welsh and English.”

Helen Hill is deputy manager of Blaenmarlais Care Home, which has 22 residents and 30 staff, including four apprentices. Despite only two residents speaking Welsh, she thinks it’s important that they are able to converse in the language of their choice.

“We support the opportunity for our staff to do bilingual apprentices if they wish,” she said. “I am one of five members of staff who speak Welsh and am proud of the language and my heritage.”

Janice Morgan, Pembrokeshire College’s Welsh language development officer, has taken on an extra role as bilingual support tutor, funded by Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol.

“Elen is an excellent Apprenticeship Ambassador and fully realises the importance of using her Welsh language skills in her work setting when speaking to residents and staff in their first language,” she said.

Lisa Mytton, the NTfW’s strategic director, said: “Many workplaces are becoming more bilingual, so completing an apprenticeship bilingually or in Welsh can increase an individual’s confidence to work in both languages and their employability.

“Our Apprenticeship Ambassadors are excellent role models for apprenticeships, highlighting the benefits of learning and working bilingually in the workplace.”

Elin Williams, from the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, said: “This is the third year running that we have appointed ambassadors for the apprenticeship sector, and we think this is a vital tool in showing people that it is possible to continue with your bilingual learning through the apprenticeship route.

“With the Welsh Government’s target to reach one million Welsh speakers by 2050, it has never been more important to develop your bilingual skills and increase your employability prospects.”

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

To find out more about apprenticeship opportunities go to Careers Wales https://careerswales.gov.wales/apprenticeships or telephone 0800 028 4844.

Education

Silver UNICEF award for Neyland Community School

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NEYAND COMMUNITY SCHOOL’S is celebrating after being awarded a prestigious UNICEF award.

The Rights Respecting Schools (RRS) Award is granted to schools that show commitment to promoting and realising children’s rights and encouraging adults, children, and young people to respect the rights of others in school.

The Silver award is awarded to schools that make excellent progress towards embedding the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into its ethos and curriculum.

Neyland Community School joins 1,300 schools across the UK that have achieved the Silver status.

Headteacher Clare Hewitt, said: “UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation working for children and their rights and I am very proud of our RRS ambassadors and the school community for achieving our Silver status. 

“Pupils’ rights and wellbeing is at the heart of all we do and it is fantastic that we have been recognised for this.”

Assistant Headteacher and RRS Lead, Gemma Morris, said: “Here at Neyland Community school we believe that it is so important for the children to understand that they have rights and to what these rights are. 

“This really is at the heart and centre of all that we do. We have been on a wonderful journey and it is great to be recognised for the Silver award.”

Pictured: Assistant Headteacher and RRS Lead, Gemma Morris with Neyland Community School children.

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Education

College to launch Energy Transition Skills Hub supported by Shell UK

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PEMBROKESHIRE COLLEGE says it is delighted to announce that it is working with Shell UK to develop an Energy Transition Skills Hub on the College site in Haverfordwest.

The Energy Transition Skills Hub is currently one of three supported by Shell UK and will focus on providing people with the skills and knowledge to find employment in renewable and low-carbon energy projects through an immersive and interactive learning experience.

The facility aims to train 600 individuals by July 2026, providing Pembrokeshire and West Wales with a pool of talent that will have knowledge and experience of control systems needed for projects such as offshore floating wind farms and the Haven hydrogen power plants.

With renewables and low-carbon technology high on the agenda, both locally and nationally, the facility comes at an important time for the energy sector.

The state-of-the-art onsite Control Room will enable training in control systems for a wide range of sectors including: Offshore Floating Wind; Hydrogen Plant; Solar PV; Tidal/Marine and gas power stations.

The programme is supported by Shell UK and the Swansea Bay City Deal Skills and Talent Fund and responds directly to the needs of local companies as well as those from further afield who are looking to invest in the region. The Hub, which is scheduled to open this summer, will also support the local community and schools by giving them the opportunity to understand more about how energy transition will impact the way we live and work in the future.

Arwyn Williams, Head of Faculty at Pembrokeshire College states: “We are delighted to be working with Shell UK on the development of the Control Room training facility. Many of our learners and those looking to upskill will benefit from understanding more about the control systems through practical experience. Having the capability to train people for emerging sectors such as Offshore Floating Wind and Hydrogen will give them a real advantage when the opportunities become available.”

Anthony Harte, Shell UK Social Impact Manager, says: “We are pleased to be working closely with Pembrokeshire College on the development of the Energy Transition Skills Hub. This will be one in a series of hubs across Britain that Shell UK is investing in, with a view to help upskill and train the workforce of the future. Shell UK ‘s Skills Transition Programme aims to help 15,000 people into jobs, with a focus on the energy transition by 2035. We want as many people as possible to benefit from the energy system of the future, so that the transition is an opportunity for all.”

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Education

Largest ever global air sampling maps fungal spread

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MUSHROOMS and other fungi spread their spores in a more localised way than once thought and more similar to how animals and plant species migrate, new research has found.

Published in the journal Nature, it is the largest ever global air sampling project and analyses how the climate affects the growth and spread of fungi.

The study used air samplers to collect airborne fungal spores at 47 locations on every continent apart from Antarctica over a two-year period.

Most fungi spread by releasing airborne spores and detection of these spores with air sampling can tell us when they are released and how far they travel.

Mapping of the global distribution of fungi can establish the ecological ranges of rare or threatened species to be observed. This allows us to detect changes in these patterns caused by climate change or habitat destruction.

It also means the spread of fungi which are potentially harmful to humans or crop plants can be monitored.

Fungi are essential to how ecosystems work but they are mostly invisible to the naked eye, so the factors determining their distribution and activity remain poorly understood.

It is estimated that there could be up to five million different species but most of these remain unknown.

For decades scientists debated which factors drive the distribution of fungi and other microbes.

It was originally believed that the long distance dispersal of fungi in the air meant they could reach all parts of the planet, but would only grow in suitable conditions.

This contrasts with animals and plants whose spread is more strictly limited by mountain ranges, seas and other geographical barriers.

However, the new research paper shows that the spread of fungi, like animals and plants, is determined by climatic factors, and that they too are distributed locally, not only in where they grow but in how their spores are spread.

Professor Gareth Griffith from the Department of Life Sciences at Aberystwyth University said: “Sampling of airborne DNA in the way we have for this study is a huge step forward in the understanding of the how fungi grow and disperse in different parts of the world. Overall, our results suggest that the factors that affect where microbes live and grow are similar to those determining the distribution of plants and animals.

“The very diverse kingdom of fungi follows globally highly predictable patterns. These patterns resemble those described for other major groups of organisms. This research makes a major contribution to that long-standing debate.”

The study found that species of airborne fungus found in different regions was most strongly affected by the mean annual air temperature of the site, with diversity and numbers increasing from the poles towards the Equator.

The results also confirms that temperature influences fungal reproduction and that spore release peaks when the wind speeds are high.

Professor Gareth Griffith from Aberystwyth University added:“Our results highlight the role of temperature as an underlying driver of fungal dispersal, with fungal diversity increasing with warmer climates and more spores being released on warmer days. This finding suggests that global climate change, and generally warming climates, will have a major role in restructuring fungal communities.

“Although previous large-scale studies of soil fungi have found clear effects of the climate on community composition, the fact that air temperature explains most of the variation in the distributions of fungi in our data is striking.”

Speaking about the significance of the air sampling, Academy Research Fellow Nerea Abrego, from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, said:

“Air is a real treasure trove for nature research; it is full of DNA from plants, fungi, bacteria, insects, mammals and other organisms. This knowledge is essential not only to understand where and when different fungal species thrive, but also to predict their fate under the ongoing global change.

“One particularly interesting subject for further research is a more detailed review of the sequences for fungi that are important to humans. These include fungal diseases of humans, crops and production animals, as well as fungi that indicate the progress of the loss of nature and the weakening of natural ecosystem processes.”

The Global Spore Sampling Project was funded through a number of bodies, including the UK Natural Environment Research Council.

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