Sam Jones’ desire to follow in his father’s footsteps to become a gas engineer has led to a winning feeling at this year’s Apprenticeship Awards Cymru.
Sam, 32, who lives in Graig, Pontypridd, was named Foundation Apprentice of the Year at the prestigious awards ceremony at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport on Friday night.
“It just goes to show that anyone can achieve their goal, no matter how old you are and no matter where you come and what your circumstances are,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting to win because the standard of the other finalists was so high.
“To be holding this award at 33 years old means the world to me and it’s a reward for my employer’s decision to put forward engineers for the Apprenticeship Programme. I would like to thank my employer and everyone associated with my apprenticeship programme and this fantastic event.”
Jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), the coveted awards are sponsored by Pearson PLC and supported by media partner, Media Wales. The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.
Thirty star learners, employers and learning providers involved in the delivery of successful skills programmes across Wales were shortlisted for awards.
The awards are designed to showcase and celebrate the outstanding achievements of learners, employers, tutors and assessors who have excelled in contributing to the development of the Welsh Government’s Traineeships and Apprenticeship programmes.
Sam took a pay cut by giving up his previous job to become a build and replace apprentice with Wales & West Utilities. His Apprenticeship in Gas Network Construction Operations is being delivered by Utilise T.D.S. Limited for Cardiff and Vale College.
In addition to learning the skills of the trade, Sam has created ‘Sam the Sniffer Dog’, a retro-fit design cover for carbon monoxide home alarms to raise public awareness of the silent killer.
He also wrote and presented a paper on the topic to the Institute of Gas Engineers and Management and has spoken at shows, to companies and in his local community.
Due to his work, which included making a video of emergency gas repair work, Sam has received Ambassador and Rising Star Awards from his employer.
He added: “I was never looking at my Apprenticeship as short term, as I want to be within this industry for life. Working in a fast paced, challenging and ever-evolving industry, I am now with a company that demands the very best standards.”
Congratulating Sam on the award, Skills and Science Minister, Julie James said: “Each finalist has helped to set a gold standard in vocational training and this should be applauded.
“Apprenticeships and Traineeships are an essential ingredient of economic success and a vital tool in building a stronger, fairer and more equal Wales. The Welsh Government, with support from the European Social Fund, regards Apprenticeships and Traineeships as an excellent way to build a skilled and competitive workforce, address skills shortages and strengthen the Welsh economy.
“Increasing higher level skills and developing skills pathways that benefit the whole of Wales has never been more important and we are committed to continuing the good work already underway with businesses, training providers and individuals to achieve this.”
The other category finalists were Joe Lewis from Port Talbot who works for Vale Europe Limited and Sophie Hendy from Llandudno who works for Tommy’s Hair Company.