Bridgend College helps create Apprenticeship journey for shy young learner.

A previously nervous and anxious teenager has “come out of his shell” thanks to support from the Prince’s Trust and training provider The People Business-Wales, owned by Bridgend College.

Neil Jones, 18, from Llantwit Major, has gone from hiding in his bedroom playing computer games all day to becoming a valued apprentice at retailer Peacocks in Barry.

The turning point for Neil was completing the Prince’s Trust Team Programme (Engagement) at The People Business-Wales. He progressed to a Traineeship Level 1 and within four weeks was offered an Apprenticeship with Peacocks.

The Prince’s Trust Team Programme is a 12 week course aimed at young people aged 16-25. It helps these young people to discover their hidden talents and aims at improving their confidence. The free programme enables them gain new skills and qualifications whilst allowing them to meet new people and make new friends.

Neil’s learning journey has been recognised and he has recently been shortlisted for this year’s Apprenticeship Awards Cymru. He will be competing to become Traineeship Learner of the Year (Level 1) at the prestigious awards ceremony, held at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, on November 9th.

The annual 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.

Jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), the coveted awards are supported by media partner, Media Wales. The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

Thirty star employers, learners and learning providers from across Wales have been shortlisted for the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru.

Whilst at school, Neil had ambitions of returning to sixth form, having achieved six GCSEs and a BTEC Level 2 Certificate in Applied Science, but changed his mind because of depression and anxiety brought on by bullying.

Hiding away in his bedroom, he became increasingly isolated from friends and family until his father encouraged him to meet a careers advisor, which led to the Prince’s Trust Team Programme.

Taking part in a community project and spending a day as a firefighter helped build his team working, confidence and problem-solving skills, and encouraged him interact confidently with others.

He is now a “valued, reliable and enthusiastic” member of staff at Peacocks and hopes to attend college to study business in the future.

“Working at Peacocks has made me more focused on my future,” said Neil. “I want to keep improving and face new challenges. I really feel like I have come out of my shell and I can look forward to the future.”

Caroline Morris-Hills, Barry centre manager for The People Business-Wales Ltd, said:

“The change in Neil from when he began the Traineeship programme to starting at Peacocks is huge. He has transformed into a confident, articulate young man with the drive to excel in his chosen career.”

The aim and vision of The Prince’s Trust Team Programme is to offer the highest quality training and support to learners. Working to ensure that they maximise their potential, realise their ideals and go on to make a positive contribution to the community and local economy.

Congratulating Neil on being shortlisted for an award, Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan said: “Apprenticeship Awards Cymru showcase the success of the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeships and Traineeships Programmes and the achievements of our star apprentices, employers, learning providers and trainees.

“Apprenticeships are a great way for individuals to gain valuable skills and experience while earning a wage and for employers to ensure their workforce has the skills to future proof a business.

“Increasing higher level skills and developing skills pathways that benefit the whole of Wales have never been more important.”

The People Business-Wales Ltd is a medium sized training provider based in Barry in The Vale of Glamorgan. The company was set up by Will Hills in 2000 and has been offering a range of options in Work Based Learning since 2001.