Nov 2015 / Company

A Treorchy woman, who has rejuvenated her career at the age of 53 thanks to a Higher Apprenticeship in Leadership and Management, collected a major award at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2015.

Janet Bevan, a principal occupational therapist for Cwm Taf University Health Board in Llantrisant, was named Higher Apprentice of the Year at the high profile awards ceremony held at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport on Thursday.

“I am so proud and the award proves what you can achieve if you put your mind to it,” she said. “I wouldn’t have applied for the job I am in now without doing the apprenticeship.

“My advice to others thinking of a Higher Apprenticeship is to go for it. You are never too old to learn and I’m now encouraging my staff to do an apprenticeship.”

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.

Janet, who was so committed to her Higher Apprenticeship that she studied while on honeymoon, already had an Occupational Therapy degree as well as many other qualifications but, in order to progress her career, needed more confidence.

She says the Higher Apprenticeship has “transformed” her, so much so that soon after starting the programme she was promoted to principal occupational therapist for the Older Person’s Mental Health Service.

“The knowledge and skills I gained had boosted my confidence in my ability to manage, so after much persuasion, I applied for the promotion,” she said. “This happened just as I got married and I had to prepare for my interview whilst on honeymoon!”

Janet managed a team of 19 staff whilst also completing her ILM Level 5 in Leadership and Management and the Management NVQ Diploma Level 5. She attended study days organised by training provider ACT Limited and met her assessor every month, but had to complete the work in her own time.

“Working full time with the additional management responsibilities, as well as completing the course, was hard but it was worth it,†she said. “I continually use the skills I have gained to improve and develop my team and the service we deliver.”

She is now planning to study for the Level 7 Management Award with the ILM.

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.”