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Alana Spencer supports apprenticeship campaign

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THIS summer, the Welsh Government is helping to support 1,000 brand new apprenticeship vacancies for people of all ages across Wales.

The vacancies, which will be posted on the Apprenticeship Matching Service on the Careers Wales website throughout the summer, will offer young people and adults the chance to secure an exciting career in a wide range of disciplines including ICT, creative industries, construction and STEM, where skill shortages are particularly prevalent.

The job roles will all be apprenticeship opportunities with qualifications to match, with a particular focus on technical and professional skills. Some of the apprenticeships that are available now include journalist, associate scientist, quantity surveyor, ICT and computing, digital and marketing.

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

Alana Spencer, 25, winner of BBC One series, The Apprentice in 2016 is a supporter of the Welsh Government apprenticeship programme.

She said:“Young people leaving school are so lucky to have so many opportunities available to them. Apprenticeships have so many great benefits and allow young people to kick-start a career in a field they love, while also gaining some fantastic experience and industry relevant skills and qualifications that will help them to progress their career in the future.

“When I left school at 16 I was adamant that I didn’t want to follow the traditional university route into a job. I also didn’t know anything about apprenticeships at the time so didn’t even consider them as a possible avenue into becoming a chocolatier.

“When I was first starting out I had no-one to teach me so I spent my days learning how to cook by practising and perfecting recipes at home. I would then road test them with family and friends as well as at local events.

“It was exceedingly hard work and really challenging at times but thoroughly rewarding. However, there have been times when I didn’t think I’d make it and would’ve been grateful for the opportunity to get some advice and support as well as some practical, hands-on experience before venturing out alone.

“These days apprenticeships are the perfect answer when it comes to wanting to launch a career in a field you’re passionate about while also obtaining all the tools you need to succeed in the future. They are a win – win for everyone.”

Wales has developed a highly successful apprenticeship programme over recent years. Apprenticeships are increasingly becoming a viable alternative to traditional academic routes into employment, helping people of all ages gain on the job experience while studying for a nationally recognised qualification.

With results day around the corner, the Welsh Government is urging people in Wales to consider how an apprenticeship can be the first step of a worthwhile, skilled career path.

Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James, said: “Apprenticeships are the start of an exciting and rewarding career and can benefit anyone of any age, giving them an opportunity to gain practical, on the job experience while gaining all the skills and qualifications they need.

“Apprenticeships are a key investment for employers who can train their workforce in the specialist skills they need within their organisation. Overall, apprenticeships play an important role in increasing the nation’s overall skill set and driving economic growth, making sure that Wales remains competitive on the world stage.

“The Welsh Government is working in conjunction with training providers across Wales to highlight 1000 apprenticeship vacancies in organisations from various sectors within small SMEs to larger global conglomerates over the summer period.

“The job roles available offer all the benefits of an apprenticeship with qualifications to match, and there is a particular focus on improving technical and professional higher level skills. The Welsh Government is rebalancing its investment towards the priority areas that deliver higher returns and the range of opportunities that will be available over the summer reflect this.

“The roles available are open to people of all ages and provide access to high quality training for individuals who want to achieve their full potential. We already have a strong record of quality apprenticeships and our goal is to build on this and offer apprenticeships in sectors that drive growth and prospects of increased earning power.”

For more information about becoming an apprentice, visit careerswales.com and following the apprenticeship link or to find out how your business could benefit from recruiting an apprentice, visit Skills Gateway for Business at https://businesswales.gov.wales/skillsgateway/apprenticeships or call 03000 603000.

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Alerts issued ahead of Storm Brian

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NATURAL RESOURCE WALES (NRW) is warning people that parts of the Welsh coast could see localised flooding as Storm Brian combines with high tides this evening and tomorrow.

The conditions could cause a storm surge, which in some areas could lead to overtopping of sea defences. Current predictions show that the worst affected areas are likely to be along exposed sections of the west coast of Wales from Southern Gwynedd to Llantwit Major.

High tides in these locations are expected to peak between 6am and 11am tomorrow (Oct 21).

NRW has already issued a number of flood alerts for the west coast, and is likely to issue flood warnings for Aberystwyth and Newgale later today. Further alerts or warnings for other areas will be issued as necessary.

24/7 Emergency response workers from NRW will be out at key areas of the coast over the next couple of day to monitor the high tides and condition of its sea flood defences.

NRW has also contacted its partner agencies such as local councils and the emergency services to ensure that appropriate responses are in place should the need arise.

Richard Hancox, from Natural Resources Wales said: “Conditions across the coastline are likely to be extremely dangerous this weekend and we urge people to stay clear, and avoid visiting the coast during this time.

“We know people are tempted to try and take photos of these storms, but it really isn’t worth putting your life at risk. Sea spray and flood water can knock you off your feet easier than you might think, and the large waves can send debris flying onto shore.

“If anyone is concerned about the risk of flooding to their home, please check to see if flood warnings are available in your area, and visit our website for advice on how best to prepare.”

Flood alerts and flood warnings are updated on the Natural Resources Wales website every 15 minutes.

Information and updates are also available by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188. People can also register for free flood warnings either by calling the Floodline number or at NRW’s website.

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​Major bequests for Aber research ​

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TWO major legacies to support postgraduate research have been announced at Aberystwyth University’s Founders’ Day held in the Old College on October 13.

The University revealed that Eleanor and David James had donated £2m to the institution where they both worked for 35 years, while former student Margaret Wooloff has bequeathed £400,000.

Both bequests will be used to fund postgraduate research at the University, in line with the wishes of the benefactors.

The legacies were announced as part of the University’s now annual Founders’ event, which echoes the celebrations held in the town back in October 1872 when the first students arrived at Old College.

The Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, Professor Elizabeth Treasure, said: “It is extremely fitting that these very special bequests have been the focal point of this year’s Founders’ Day event. They remind us how the University has been supported since its early beginnings by the generosity of the people of Wales and the wider world.

“Eleanor and David James, and Margaret Wooloff all dedicated their lives to the furtherance of knowledge and their valuable contributions to education in Wales will live on in their legacies. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”

The Director of Development and Alumni Relations at Aberystwyth University, Louise Jagger, said: “There is a very strong bond between the University and our family of alumni across the world. Eleanor and David James and Margaret Wooloff were all active members of the Old Students’ Association during their lives and we are immensely grateful to them for their support over the years. Their generous legacies will now enable the scholars of the future to pursue their particular fields of expertise and undertake research with impact, which is integral to our mission as a leading University.”

Members of the local community joined staff and students at the Old College to mark Founders’ Day.

The guest speaker at the event was Ceredigion MP Ben Lake who said: “The story of how Aberystwyth University – or the University College of Wales as it was originally called – is one in which we can all take pride as a nation. Driven by the vision of its founders, the dream of establishing a college with University status in Wales was made possible thanks to the generosity of ordinary people. The roots and foundations of the University reflect our values in Wales and it is vitally important that we commemorate and celebrate this very special heritage.

“May I take this opportunity to congratulate Aberystwyth on being named recently as the University of the Year for Teaching Quality by the Good University Guide – a well deserved accolade which is testament to the dedication of all its staff.”

In July 2017, the Heritage Lottery Fund announced that it had earmarked £10.5m for ambitious plans to redevelop Old College in time for the University’s 150th anniversary in 2022.

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Driving Wales to international skills success

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AS SKILLS CHAMPION for Wales, Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion principal Barry Liles is at the forefront of aspiring young people to develop high quality, world-class skills.

The vehicle used to drive this ambition are skills competitions, which are held on a Welsh, UK and international level.

Competitions in Wales begin with regional Welsh Government supported competitions which are events that culminate to find Wales’ top competitors who progress to take part in UKSkills national and WorldSkills international events.

This year, 36 competitors from the UK are competing at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi, four of which are from Wales, two of which represent Coleg Sir Gâr, which is an impressive percentage of UK representation. These competitors have undergone a rigorous training process by WorldSkills UK, supported by training providers and employers.

Coleg Sir Gâr students have been selected for Team UK since 2009 when carpentry student Cliff Williams made the team in 2009 competing in WorldSkills Calgary. He was followed by web designer David Bowen who competed for in WorldSkills London, 2011. Carpenter Gareth Jones won gold in EuroSkills in 2012 followed by Simon McCall and Eleni Constantinou who won two silvers at EuroSkills in 2014 for hairdressing and carpentry with Eleni progressing to represent the UK and Coleg Sir Gâr in hairdressing at WorldSkills, Sao Paulo in 2015.

Last year, the college was ranked joint third place in the UK for its medal success in the Skills Show – the UK final, for achieving three golds, one silver and one bronze award. The show, held at Birmingham’s NEC every year, brings together medal winners from all nations to compete and showcase their skills and to hopefully continue their journey to the international arena, representing the UK in Worldskills which brings over 50 competing countries together and is likened to the Olympic games.

Barry Liles, Skills Champion for Wales said: “To have an impact on the economy and raise Wales and UK’s GVA, we must raise the skills of the UK population and we’re trying to do this from a young age and we’re significantly targeting industries that are important to Wales’ economy.

“The anticipated result is hoped to impact on young people and help them raise their ambitions and to find highly skilled work.”

In Wales, to help achieve this ambition, is a Welsh-Government funded project called Inspiring Skills Excellence (ISE), which is providing a supportive infrastructure to enable competitors from Wales to achieve success at national and international level.

“Much of our work is supporting competitors across Wales in their participation, training and mentoring to help them achieve excellence in skills relevant to economic growth and delivering medal winning success at national and international competitions,” said Paul Evans, ISE pan-coordinator for Wales.

“Using state of the art equipment we also engage with schools, providing hands-on and exciting experiences for young people to raise awareness of careers and the pathways available to them.”

Barry Liles added: “Being Skills Champion for Wales is a long-held ambition perhaps because I came from a vocational engineering background, I am very passionate about it.

“Industry skills are vital in our economy and I don’t want Wales to be left behind, in fact in the last seven years we have helped drive the nation forward to being one of the leading and successful nations in UK skills competitions.”

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