AUTOMOTIVE manufacturer Gestamp Tallent Llanelli, which is reaping the rewards of investing in training and developing its workforce, has been shortlisted for a Vocational Qualification (VQ) Award.

Since taking over the Llanelli plant in 2011, Gestamp has transformed the business by investing in the plant and its people. It is a key supplier to automotive customers including Jaguar Land Rover, Bentley and Honda.

The company is one of three finalists competing for this year’s VQ Employer of the Year Award which focuses on employers who promote the value of vocational qualifications in the workplace and make a real contribution to improving the skills and national competitiveness.

Organised by the Welsh Government in partnership with the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), ColegauCymru / CollegesWales and Qualifications Wales, the VQ Awards are designed to reward individuals and organisations for their commitment, hard work and achievements.

The awards ceremony will be held at The Exchange Hotel, Cardiff on May 3 to coincide with VQ Day.

People are central to Gestamp’s business strategy and one of its four corporate principles, “people are architects of success”, rings true in the Llanelli plant.

Gestamp’s dedicated ‘Talent Growth Programme’, which assesses skills, knowledge and behaviours via appraisals in association with enhanced job descriptions, creates individual, tailored development plans for all 428 Llanelli employees.

The company has an all-inclusive approach to providing formal development and qualifications to its employees.

“Achieving vocational qualifications and training are at the forefront of our business,” said Victoria Adams, the company’s training manager. “Promoting the personal and professional development of staff enables us to fulfil our other business objectives.

“Our commitment to employees achieving qualifications knows no bounds – employees from the shopfloor to board level are included.”

In the last year, 20% of the workforce embarked on vocational programmes, ranging from mechanical engineering and welding to coaching, quality improvement and train the trainer.

Alongside technical programmes, the equally critical Leadership and Management, Developing Leaders and High Potential programmes support those at all levels of leadership within the business, supporting strategic succession plans.

From apprenticeships to undergraduate and compliance qualifications, Coleg Sir Gâr has supported the company. One of its apprentices won a gold medal in Industrial Electronics at the WorldSkills competition.

Staff turnover is low with 16 employees reaching 40 years’ service in the last year.

“The passion this organisation demonstrates towards the achievement of qualifications is commendable,” said Caroline Newman, Coleg Sir Gâr’s assistant principal, who praised Gestamp’s school links.

In addition to the VQ awards ceremony, learning providers across Wales are being encouraged to organise regional events that engage with learners of all ages on VQ Day.

Vocational qualifications are important to the economy, companies and individuals, as they deliver the trained, talented employees that businesses are crying out for and ensure young people have the skills needed to succeed in education and work.

Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan said: “A VQ award is a symbol of dedication towards a chosen profession, demonstrating to others a real commitment towards personal and professional development.

“The awards help us to celebrate those Welsh employers, learners and trainers who are already going that extra mile when it comes to developing vocational skills and qualifications.”

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

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