Environmental Conservation Apprentice crowned Foundation Apprentice of the Year 2024

We are thrilled to congratulate Gwynfor Jones, a Bridgend College apprentice, who was awarded the prestigious ‘Foundation Apprentice of the Year’ award at last week’s Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2024 ceremony.

Organised by Welsh Government and supported by the National Training Federation for Wales and EAL, this year’s Apprenticeship Awards Cymru was held at the International Convention Centre (ICC) Wales in Newport. The annual event recognises the outstanding efforts and contributions made by individuals, businesses and work-based learning practitioners across nine categories. 

Gwynfor was nominated for his award due to the exemplary commitment and dedication he displayed during his apprenticeship in Environmental Conservation with Welcome to Our Woods (WTOW). Bridgend College provided the work-based learning programme for Gwynfor and supported the organisation with their first-ever apprentice.

“When Gwynfor turned 16 and said he wanted to come to work for Welcome to Our Woods, the pressure was on us to find a way for Gwynfor to move forward with that. Gwynfor had done a lot of his own research at the time and came to us with the course down in Bridgend, and it’s been a huge success for us.

People can’t just come off the shelf to do this work – we really needed someone embedded in the organisation with space for them to learn. Taking on an apprentice – it was a no brainer.”

Ian Thomas, Head of Development at Welcome to Our Woods

Having volunteered with the community woodland partnership since he was 13 years old, Gwynfor was keen to turn his passion for the great outdoors and conservationism into a career. Now 18, Gwynfor has contributed to the growth of WTOW and its community outreach, connecting residents with nature.

Based in Treherbert in the Upper Rhondda Fawr valley, WTOW’s mission is to establish new ways of managing natural resources and open spaces in order to support the training, employment and wellbeing of the local community. Amongst other avenues of interest, they work hard to maintain and improve woodland management strategies whilst also forging partnerships and local supply chains in order to create a resilient local economy.

During his apprenticeship, Gwynfor has been involved in a range of tasks, from tree planting and building fences to driving tractors and crop growing. Having been an active part of WTOW for the past five years and developing his industry knowledge whilst working, Gwynfor has laid the foundations for a successful career in conservation with a plethora of future prospects.

“The apprenticeship in Environmental Conservation seemed like something I wanted to do – working with the environment but across different sectors which allowed me to explore the range of opportunities I could get involved with.

If you can find a course that is directly related to a job you’re interested in, go for it. The apprenticeship is, to me, more interesting than being in a classroom 5 days a week, and you get to learn more practical, relevant skills.”

Gwynfor Jones, Environmental Conservation Apprentice at Welcome to Our Woods

Bridgend College is one of the leading providers of apprenticeships in Wales, offering a diverse range of training programmes across a breadth of industries. The College supports individuals in developing their craft and gaining valuable career experience whilst they learn, placing them on a trajectory for success.

“Having an apprenticeship is not just about gaining great skills and excellent training: it can be the stepping stone to a fantastic career and to being part of some of the best businesses in Wales. We are committed to providing outstanding educational experiences by delivering high quality teaching and learning in order to ensure success on our apprenticeship programmes. 

I am immensely proud of Gwynfor’s success; it is truly a beacon of inspiration and his journey embodies the essence of dedication, resilience, and excellence, culminating in a well-deserved recognition. This achievement not only celebrates Gwynfor’s individual triumph but also reflects the College’s unwavering commitment to nurturing talent and fostering meaningful pathways to success.”

Denise Brookes-Cooze, Head of Work Based Learning at Bridgend College

To learn more about how Bridgend College can support your career, take a look at our apprenticeship opportunities.

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