Prestigious career support awards presented to eight Welsh businesses

Careers Wales announced the eight winners of their Valued Partner Awards 2023 at an awards ceremony in Cardiff on Wednesday 22 November.

The winners of each category were announced live by the event host, Sian Lloyd, at the Pierhead building on the Senedd estate in Cardiff.

Coinciding with Careers Wales’ ten-year anniversary as an all-Wales company, the awards were sponsored by Minister for the Economy, Vaughan Gething.

These highly anticipated awards are a chance for Careers Wales to recognise employers who have delivered impactful and engaging careers experiences to pupils in Wales over the last twelve months.

To celebrate the organisation’s ten-year anniversary, this year featured an additional award to recognise the outstanding achievement of employers who have supported schools over the past decade.

Through working closely with schools, these organisations support young people to make links between what they learn in school and the world of work and to understand the opportunities that are available to them.

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “Huge congratulations to all the winners for the Valued Partner Awards – and also to all those who made it to the shortlist.

“The Welsh Government is committed to investing in our future generations and providing young people with the tools they need to build successful future careers.

“Thank you to the employers who have been part of the Valued Partner Awards this year for providing young people with the opportunity interact with them, allowing them to broaden their horizons and discover where their interests lie. It will help ensure they can be at the forefront of helping our Welsh businesses to innovate and grow.”

Nikki Lawrence, chief executive at Careers Wales, said: “It is with immense pride that we announce the winners of the Valued Partner Awards this year.

“We had a very high calibre of nominations, and it has been such a pleasure to highlight the invaluable impact made when employers and schools come together in partnership.

“The awards enable us to thank businesses for inspiring, motivating and empowering pupils with work-related knowledge and experiences that will help guide them to shape their futures.

“On behalf of myself and everyone at Careers Wales, congratulations to all the winners and we look forward to continuing our vital work with them.”

Here are all eight winners in their categories:

Outstanding Achievement 10 Year Award: Castell Howell

Ed Morgan, Group Corporate Social Responsibility & Training Manager at Castell Howell, said: “It’s a real honour to win a Careers Wales Valued Partner Award. There are so many companies doing really great things, and we are one of many. We feel really lucky to win.”

Best Newcomer: JCB

Craig Weeks, General Manager at JCB Transmissions in Wrexham, said: “This is a start of a journey for us. We are overwhelmed with this award, and I can’t wait to continue the work together with Careers Wales in the future.”

Best Ongoing Relationship with a School: Morganstone

Sarah Bishop, Operations Co-ordinator at Morganstone, said: “We are delighted to have won the Best Ongoing Relationship with a School today. We will continue to work with Careers Wales and engage with pupils in schools who are interested in construction.

“A personal highlight for me has been our “Girls in Construction” event at schools which has shown female pupils what career paths are available to them, and that construction is not just a male environment.”

Most Supportive Small Business: Kidslingo / Wibli Wobli Nursery

Natasha Baker, owner of Kidslingo and Wibli Wobli Nursery, said: “This award means a lot, especially as a small business I feel really grateful that I get the opportunity to work with schools and make a difference for the students that I meet.”

Outstanding Personal Contribution: Colette Affaya – Airbus

Colette Affaya, Education Liaison Officer at Airbus, said: “I started this role at Airbus only a little over a year ago so to get this nomination and award feels amazing. I love doing this job, I love going out to schools and inspiring young people about new careers.

“My mind is always going with ideas, and I can’t stop thinking about new educational activities to introduce in the future.”

Most Supportive Work Experience Employer: Cottage Coppicing

Lisa Standley, owner of Cottage Coppicing, said: “It’s a tough time for kids, they face challenges we never did at their age. I’m happy I can help by offering them a work experience that they enjoy, that is a little bit different and that leads them on to a different career path.

“Personally, I find my work with kids hugely rewarding. I think I get more out of it than the kids do!”

Best Promoter of Welsh in the Workplace: Betsi Cadwalader University Health Board

Meilyr Emrys, Welsh Language Officer at Betsi Cadwalader University Health Board, said: “I think it’s very important when we work with schools, to explain to young people that speaking just a little bit of Welsh means they have basic bilingual skills, and it is a huge advantage for them and there is a real value in it.

“It’s not about being fluent in both languages, it’s about doing what they can – and sometimes it’s only saying bore da. And seeing young people understand that message is really huge.”

Best Supporter of the Net Zero Agenda: EDF Renewables UK

Ffion Davis, Welsh External Affairs Manager, said: “Winning this award was a massive surprise and a huge honour. We feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with Careers Wales and to go to schools and talk about all the varied renewable energy roles.

“We want to inspire young learners to be that future workforce to get to net zero.”