A teenager who is developing a career as a bed salesman despite leaving school with few qualifications was honoured at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2015 ceremony on Thursday night.
Cory Rowlands, 18, from Barry, was named Traineeship Level One Learner of the Year at the high profile awards ceremony held at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport. As family illness prevented him from attending the ceremony, the award was collected in his absence by Katie Wallar and Matt Harper, managers from his training provider, ACT Limited, who praised his hard work.
Disappointed to have missed the awards ceremony, Cory said he was shocked when told he had won the award. “I was speechless because I didn’t expect it,” he said. “The award means a lot to me because I worked hard with ACT to get this job, which I love. My employer is really proud of me.
“I have progressed so much with the help of ACT. Now I am determined to show my employer that they made the right choice.”
After a year working with ACT Limited, Cory is developing a career with Cardiff Bed Store. He was given work experience with the company which has progressed into a full time sales position with the family-run business.
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.
Personal issues meant that Cory left school with few qualifications but he blossomed during his time with ACT Limited, completing a Customer Service Traineeship Level one alongside other Essential Skills qualifications.
ACT Limited recognised his great communication and interpersonal skills but had to work hard to develop his Application of Number skills, an essential part of working within retail.
It was Cory’s positive attitude that led Cardiff Bed Store owner Dennis Maunder to give him a full time position. “Cory is a great lad, hardworking, punctual, reliable and polite and can confidently sell all of our products,” he said.
“It can be a risk taking on somebody so young with little experience but he is doing a fantastic job.”
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.”