The Learner of the Year Awards is an opportunity for us to celebrate the achievements of our learners, partners and employers through our contractors over the last 12 months.

The event is organised annually by our Wales Skills team. The senior management team were inundated with nominations for our six awards and narrowing down our finalists to just five for each category was a difficult task.

In order to be a finalist, our learners had to demonstrate a variety of attitudes but most importantly:

  • A proven commitment to their learning programme
  • Success in overcoming barriers to progress to the next stage of their learning programme
  • And continued improvement in their achievements

Our employers have also demonstrated commitment to our learners undertaking a placement or apprenticeship, supported learners throughout their learning programme and have gone above and beyond in their commitment to the learner and the programme.

This year’s event took place yesterday at the Pierhead in Cardiff, and we were delighted to be joined by Julie James, Deputy Minister for Skills & technology, Dame Rosemary Butler, Presiding Officer for the Welsh Govt, Simon Thomas AM, and Mike Hedges AM

Here are our nominees for the Learner of the Year Award 2015:

Apprentice of the Year Award Nominee - Laura Marcarino

Laura works in Pipkin’s Nursery, Swansea, she has become a valued member of the team. Her manager speaks very highly of her and is delighted with the progress she has made and her contribution into the daily running of the nursery.

While Laura has been working extremely hard on her Children’s Care, Learning and Development qualifications she has also been carrying out other training.

Laura has achieved her First Aid certificate, Food Hygiene and is about to start a training session on Gardening and outside activities for children. Laura came to People Plus Cymru as a Level 1 learner on placement. The nursery went on to employ Laura and she started her Level 2 Apprenticeship with us.

Laura worked hard at the nursery showing her understanding of her role and gained knowledge and skills to help her achieve her qualification. Laura moved straight onto her Level 3 Apprenticeship and has become a valued member of the team at Pipkin’s.

Apprentice of the Year Award Nominee - Lauren Humphreys

Lauren has showed constant commitment since starting her Level 1 programme. Lauren is always motivated, hardworking and is an excellent member of the team at Little Folk Nursery.

Lauren has done so well that she is gaining full time employment at the nursery and she is working towards a level 3 qualification. Lauren’s employer states that she always goes the extra mile and can be relied upon to carry out tasks at the nursery to a high standard.

Lauren will be employed and going straight onto an Apprenticeship (level 3) at Little Folk Nursery Lauren has developed greatly while working at Little Folk Nursery. Lauren is confident in what she does and is an asset to Little Folk Nursery. Lauren has also worked extremely hard with the work she has completed in centre also and always does what is asked for her.

Apprentice of the Year Award Nominee - Sally Knapp - Winner

Sally began her journey with PeoplePlus Cymru as part of the Families Program, she was eager to gain a qualification after being unemployed for a several years raising a family singled handily.

Sally worked towards a Level 2 qualification in Children’s Care, Learning and Development, as soon as she achieved her goal, Sally was eager to progress onto the next level as an apprentice.

She was placed in a local school as a volunteer to gain knowledge and experience of the childcare setting. It wasn’t long before Sally made an impression on her peers including the head teacher, who very quickly realised Sally was an asset to the team resulting in an offer of full-time employment.

Sally has gone onto work with children with varying degrees of special needs, still within the school; she supports their learning and development within the mainstream environment.

Apprentice of the Year Award Nominee - Mike Davis & Ian Richards

Mike and Ian have been nominated by Karen Graham from our Sub Contractor, Rossett Training due to their commitment to their studies over the past few years.

Both Learners have overcome a variety of barriers including, but not limited to, a lack of confidence and self belief, however, have gone on to work through the levels and are both currently working towards Level Five Programmes in Children’s Care, Learning and Development.

Both Mike and Ian have made significant strides in their progress, continuing to work in full-time jobs that are both highly responsible and demanding, while undertaking the course.

Both learners have continued to be innovative and resourceful in the way that they have used and supplied evidence of high level engagement in their roles and learning. Rossett have been incredibly proud to see that both of these learners have moved from an earlier position of little confidence to one in which the evidence that was being used to support their qualification completion was used to support international presentations.

Ian contributed to a recording presented during a keynote speech at the World Forum Foundation conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2014 and Mike contributed work that was discussed and presented at the OMEP World Conference, Washington, DC, in 2015. We believe that this shows significant distance traveled that is likely to be unparalleled at level five.

Traineeships Engagement Learner of the Year Nominee - Brandon & Dylan Edmunds

Dylan and Brandon are twin brothers who are nothing alike but have one thing in common… eagerness to achieve! Since being on programme Brandon has progressed to level 1 and has shown 110% commitment to his placement.Brandon is a keen boxer who has won several fights in recent months. Brandon trains 7 days a week as well as attending placement. Brandon is always punctual and will always knuckle down and get on with his work. Dylan started the programme with low literacy and numeracy skills but had the attitude and perseverance to achieve.

Dylan works hard without distractions in order to achieve. Dylan will always volunteer answers in sessions and is a pleasure to teach as he is always eager to learn more.

Brandon and Dylan are both in placements, Brandon has just started an NVQ in construction it is hoped that his employer will be able to offer him a job once he achieves his qualification. Brandon and Dylan are both more confident now, they will volunteer answers when they previously wouldn’t and now believe in themselves more.

Traineeships Engagement Learner of the Year Nominee - Rebecca Brown Tossell

When Rebecca joined us she was very shy yet always working diligently and producing work of a high caliber. Rebecca is the sole carer for her mother for some time but with the improvement of her health, Rebecca has been able to attend PeoplePlus where we feel that she has really settled and thrived.

Rebecca expressed an interest in hairdressing - as a result a placement was arranged with a local hairdressing salon, Cutting Roomz.

Rebecca overcame some anxieties about work experience and worked with PeoplePlus and the employer to become an asset to the Salon – so much so that they have offered her part time work!

Rebecca and her employer are clearly delighted with the progress made; PeoplePlus receiving glowing reports of her progress on an almost daily basis. Needless to say, Rebecca’s self confidence has improved and now, there is a permanent smile upon her face.

Traineeships Engagement Learner of the Year Nominee - Alex Cummings

Alex came into training with a statement from her careers advisor. In the statement it said Alex had severe barriers to training and employment including health and learning difficulties. When she joined training, Alex was pre-entry Numeracy & Literacy but throughout her time in training Alex has had 1:1 support with her ESW and has worked her way up the levels. Alex worked really hard in centre and became a very welcome face. Her confidence improved daily and she slowly became more and more confident.

Alex had homework every week which she asked for; she wanted to improve so much. We worked very hard with her in centre getting her ready for her placement.

Alex is working in a care home and worked hard to get to entry 3, so she can go on to the level 1 programme. Her placement commended Alex for her help in the care home. They said that her confidence has improved since she has been a big part of the centre coming in weekly working with the staff. They also said she a big part of their team and Alex is well liked.

Traineeships Engagement Learner of the Year Nominee - Lewis Gethin - Winner

Lewis is currently accessing the Engagement Level of Traineeships with PeoplePlus. He has had excellent attendance and punctuality during his time in centre. Lewis is well liked in centre and will always go the extra mile to help his tutor and his peers. On the Aberdare Office’s McMillan coffee morning Lewis walked around town witha tray of cakes selling them to passersby. This resulted in Lewis helping raise over £200 for charity.

Lewis has stated that his work with PeoplePlus is the first time that he has engaged in education and he likes coming to centre. Lewis is a keen chef and will bring a home cooked meal in everyday for his lunch you will often over hear Lewis telling his peers that they could save money if they cooked their own food.

Lewis now has a clear vision of what he wants to do and how he is going to achieve it.

Traineeships Level 1 Learner of the Year Nominee - Adam Burden

Adam started the programme and was very quiet, lacked confidence and communication skills when in groups. His initial assessments showed a need for support in both literacy and numeracy was needed, during his time with PeoplePlus on Engagement, Adam completed 7 qualifications demonstrating a growth in confidence and ability.

Adam has grown in confidence since starting with PeoplePlus on his engagement programme.

His attendance now is almost 100% and he shows complete commitment to his role as a Trainee Administrator.

Where Adam had difficulty communicating to people due to confidence issues, he now answers the phone, directing calls to relevant people or taking messages of anyone that he cannot reach.

He also remains professional, when dealing with learners. He looks forward to doing his work when given from a tutor or assessor, and uses his initiative when needed.

Traineeships Level 1 Learner of the Year Nominee - Cobi Jones

Cobi has been with a lot of providers but did not settle anywhere. When he came to us, we told him that we would support him throughout his engagement programme but he needed to show his commitment. We worked hard together to get the right placement that Cobi felt happy with.

After many reviews with Cobi’s employer, we felt it was time for Cobi to move onto Level 1. His employer said that he was a hard worker and showed commitment.

After his Level 1, Cobi wants to move onto an apprenticeship, we are very pleased with Cobi’s success.

Cobi’s time with us has been a pleasure. He has grown from a quiet young boy into a young man. He proved to us and himself, where others had let him he could do it.

Traineeships Level 1 Learner of the Year Nominee - Molly Oldham - Winner

Molly has grown in confidence and maturity since joining PeoplePlus. Molly’s mum called into centre a few weeks back and spoke to Molly’s tutor she told her that she has seen a real change in Molly since joining and can now see that Molly is focused and driven into finding a full time job within the field of childcare.

Molly is settled and focused on what she needs to achieve. Molly has made new friends and has grown in confidence.

Molly has passed her driving test since being with PeoplePlus and will often pick up her peers on her way to centre to ensure they are on time.

Molly is always punctual and has excellent attendance, she is a conscientious hard worker and completes it to an excellent standard.

Molly will always volunteer to take part in fund raising activities and is a great peer mentor in centre.

Traineeships Level 1 Learner of the Year Nominee - Ben Mordecai

Ben experienced a lack of confidence at school due to experiences of bullying which greatly affected his confidence in himself and others, however, he adapted himself quickly to life in the PeoplePlus office and made friends across a broad base of learners.

Ben’s work ethic within the office is outstanding. He completes all work given, he gets on well and helps others, has an outstanding attendance record and has gained qualifications.

Ben wants to work with vehicle mechanics, but is prepared to work in retail or customer services if it’s in an area he is interested in. To this end, Ben has gone out and tried to find work placements for himself – although none have been successful, rather than remain in centre not gaining work experience.

Ben has successfully navigated the program demands – he has overcome any confidence issues, progressed to Level 1 and the program gave Ben the security to try different things that he previously may not have done.

Traineeships Level 1 Learner of the Year Nominee - Francesa Mills

Francesa started as an Engagement learner but soon showed she was ready to progress. She has always been a keen learner and started going out of her way to support her tutor, volunteering to do displays within the classroom, this led on to Fran being a peer mentor within the classroom.

Due to Fran’s dedication and good work her tutor requested that she have a placement in centre as a teaching assistant.

This has proven a great success and Fran’s confidence has grown immensely. Fran empowers her fellow learners and makes them believe in themselves, she has excellent attendance and punctuality she is often known to give tips to others to ensure they are in centre on time.

Fran is well respected with learners and staff alike; she is always willing to go the extra mile to help others and has had great success with peer mentoring. Fran goes above and beyond her job role.

Work Ready Learner of the Year Nabil Abdullah - Winner

Nabil gained a placement with the Learning, Education & Development department within the University Health Board for the past 24 weeks on a Work Ready Placement.

Week on week he progressed to more involved tasks, initially photocopying, data entry, to meeting and greeting and finally being involved with one of the most prestigious events in the Nurse Educations Calendar – the Nurse and Midwifery Conference 2015 which was based in City Hall.

Nabil was eager to learn and develop himself week on week, always punctual and demonstrating the values we promote as a health board, kindness and integrity amongst a few.

Nabil could truly be an ambassador for the Work Ready Programme.

Traineeships Employer of the Year Honeybees Playgroup - Winner

Honeybees have worked with us taking on learners for Level 1 Work Placements. They have shown themselves to be extremely supportive to learners, often giving learners who need it a second chance. Karen and her staff often go the extra mile to help our young people achieve their full potential.

A classic example of this is Karen and her senior staff are currently volunteering their break times and time after work to spend time supporting one of their current learners with her course work, ensuring that she fully understands what it’s about and is able to complete it.

Honeybees have demonstrated commitment to the programme and to learners in order to support them to achieve.

Apprenticeships Employer of the year Temp2Perm/Steps Training - Winner

Temp2Perm & Steps Training have taken learners from Jobs Growth Wales through to apprenticeship and have sustained employment with the learners they have recruited.

Both Steve Farmer and Paul Richards consistently provided support for learners through the Apprenticeship Programme. They always ensured that all learning resources were available and both gave up their time to focus on the learners in order for them to achieve their apprenticeship.

They have been consistently accommodating even willing to cancel any meeting they had scheduled for that day in order to be available to support us and the learners.

Click here to watch our winners' testimonials.