Oct 2015 / Company

Successful training provider ACT Limited, which works in collaboration with a network of partners to improve the quality of delivery and experience for learners across Wales, achieved a notable quadruple at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2015.

The Cardiff-based company not only won the Provider Award for Partnership Working award but one of its trainers, Louisa Gregory, 28, was also named Work-Based Learning Practitioner of the Year at the high profile awards ceremony held at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport on Thursday.

There were another two successes for ACT when two of the company’s learners were awarded with accolades. Cory Rowlands, 18, from Barry, who works as a salesman with family-run Cardiff Bed Store, collected the Traineeship Learner of the Year (Level One) award and Janet Bevan, 53, from Treorchy, who works for Cwm Taf University Health Board, in Llantrisant, was named Higher Apprentice of the Year.

ACT Limited director Caroline Cooksley said: “The Provider Award for Partnership Working is recognition of all the hard work and effort put in by staff and partners in collaboration to ensure that we deliver outstanding learning opportunities to learners.”

Louisa said: “I am thrilled and stunned to be recognised for doing something which I absolutely love. This is my first job since leaving university and ACT gives me so much creative freedom to invest into my work. I believe I have found my calling to be teaching and helping others.”

The coveted awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of those who have exceeded expectations, shown a dynamic approach to training and demonstrated initiative, enterprise, innovation, creativity and commitment to the improvement of skills development for the Welsh economy.

Jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), the awards are sponsored by Pearson PLC and media partner is Media Wales. The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

Since ACT Limited was established in 1988, it has developed hundreds of symbiotic relationships with corporate partners, 23 sub-contractors, schools and the wider work-based learning network to deliver positive outcomes for young people.

The company, winner of the Provider Award for Social Responsiveness in last year’s awards, has 2,161 learners on its books and the ACT network as a whole delivers learning programmes to 4,331 individuals across Wales. Traineeship, Apprenticeship and Learning for Work programmes are delivered across 22 different sectors by the network.

Relationships have been developed with key partners, including British Gas and the NHS in Wales, NatWest and Barclays banks, Careers Wales and Job Centre Plus.

ACT has also set up two ‘schools’ to offer an alternative for 14-16 year old pupils who are disengaged with mainstream education and Estyn has cited the company for good practice for its work with learners from under-represented community groups.

Louisa, who lives in Cardiff, was up against workmate Chris Hughes, 54, and two other shortlisted finalists in her category. She was nominated because of her energy, enthusiasm and creative approach to learning.

Having worked for ACT Training for three years, she is now the Fast Track Programme co-ordinator. “I want every learner to achieve their potential,” she said. “I try to use innovative teaching methods and inspire them to be creative and curious.”

She encourages young people to use technology and some of her learners have created an animated video of the importance of communication for employment.

“I have a huge passion for what I do. Seeing a young person engaged and inspired to learn, as well as taking on new challenges, really motivates me,” she said. “I was delighted that in 2014/15, 27 of the 30 learners I worked with, went on to secure full time employment.”

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Julie James said: “Congratulations to all winners and finalists. We have some truly exceptional apprentices and learners here in Wales and these awards provide a perfect platform for us to celebrate their hard work and achievements.

“Equally important are the training providers and employers who go the extra mile to support their apprentices. We are proud to be delivering one of the most successful apprenticeship programmes in Europe with success rates in Wales remaining well above 80 per cent. Developing skilled young people is vital for our economy.”