An Ammanford-based apprentice scheme has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise following a recommendation from the Prime Minister.
The business award - the most prestigious in the UK - is given to companies or individuals who are outstanding in their field and are split across four categories - innovation, international trade and sustainable development and promoting opportunity.
Cyfle Building Skills, based in Coleg Sir Gar, Ammanford, has scooped the innovation award for its ground-breaking scheme in which apprentices are taught using new and original methods, the first of its kind in the UK.
Area manager Anthony Rees said: “I am proud of the whole organisation for winning such a prestigious award. For a scheme which started out small and born locally this is a massive achievement. The success of the scheme is a real team effort and the award is proof of their hard work, dedication and professionalism.”
The apprentice scheme, supported by Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), the Welsh Government and various stakeholders, operates within five regional boundaries - Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.
The shared apprentices are provided with a theory-based education in the regional colleges whilst also being offered the chance of practical work in various trades.
Cyfle’s apprentices work with various employers over the two years rather than working with one fixed employer providing them with an alternative route into an apprenticeship.
The flexible shared system has been described as the “ultimate work-based learning experience” for future tradespeople.
Since its inception in 2013, the scheme has proved a huge success. In its first year it saw 70 apprentices employed in five trades and has since doubled that figure spanning across seven trades within the following three years.
To date the organisation has employed over 280 shared apprentices.
Cyfle are one of a handful of businesses recognised for the Queen's Award, with only a small number recognised in each category every year. The South West Wales scheme is part of a minority in Wales and in construction to have ever been successful in the Innovation award.
Since its inception in 1966, only 1357 enterprises have been rewarded with the innovation award, highlighting the prestige of Cyfle’s success.
The organisation submitted an application for the award in late 2016 and was recommended by the Prime Minister Theresa May to be rewarded for their contribution to innovation in the construction sector. Her Majesty the Queen subsequently approved the recommendation that they should be recognised for their innovative work.
The organisation will be presented with their award at Buckingham Palace by Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.