International food company Kepak Group, which employs more than 800 people at its meat production operation in Merthyr Tydfil, celebrated success at the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2022.

The company, which is building a skilled workforce by creating its own internal trainers to develop the next generation of employees, was named Large Employer of the Year.

Kepak Group has ambitious plans to have around 100 employees undertaking an apprenticeship at any one time, including both new recruits and existing staff undertaking new roles or progressing to the next level.

Jeremy Jones, Kepak Group’s UK human resources operations manager, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to win this award which tells us that we are going in the right direction.

“We are already talking to Cambrian Training Company about how we broaden the range and quantity of apprenticeships that we do. We are building a learning culture and skilled workforce by providing career opportunities for our employees, giving a bright future for them and their families.

“General manager Chris Jones deserves huge credit for taking the leap of faith and investing in the learning infrastructure and we are now growing our ambition to become the local employer of choice.”

The Apprenticeship Awards Cymru showcase the outstanding achievements, during unprecedented times, of employers, apprentices and work-based learning practitioners.

Highlight of the year for apprentices, employers and work-based learning providers and practitioners, the awards are organised by the Welsh Government and supported by the National Training Federation for Wales and headline sponsor Openreach.

Kepak Group is investing in its own talent and facilities as part of a fresh learning and development strategy, which includes skills, apprenticeships, succession planning and developing managers.

In just 18 months, staff turnover has reduced by 15% and first-generation apprentices are being promoted to more senior roles. Apprenticeships have improved both performance and profits in departments where apprentices are learning their trade.

Forty-six employees are currently undergoing apprenticeships, delivered by Cambrian Training Company, which include Meat and Poultry Industry Skills (Levels 2 and 3), Food Industry Skills (Levels 2 and 3), Food Team Leading (Level 2), Food Management (Level 3), Food Manufacturing Excellence (Level 4) and Management (Level 4 and 5).

Chris Jones, head of Cambrian Training Company’s food and drink business unit, said: “Kepak should be used as a blueprint of how to approach apprenticeship training to sustain a workforce for life.”

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething congratulated Kepak Group and all the other award winners and finalists. “This Welsh Government has ambitious plans to make Wales an engine for sustainable, inclusive growth and give every young person the best possible start in the world of work,” he said.

“I believe apprenticeships are vital to this vision and that’s why we are investing £366 million over the next three years in the delivery of our apprenticeship programme. I am determined we do all we can as a government to help deliver the long-term economic benefits our young people deserve.

“We are a small country but we have big ambitions, and our aim is to foster a culture in Wales where recruiting an apprentice is the norm for employers.”

The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund. For more information about recruiting an apprentice, visit: or call 03000 603000.

Picture caption:

Kepak Group trainee butcher Henry Lawson and human resources manager Hayley Price (front) with trainee butcher Jordan Jones, intakes manager Geraint Jones, training co-ordinator Malwina Caetano and beef boning hall manager David Bennett.