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Gower College Swansea

Iraqi asylum seeker has law career in sight thanks to a Swansea college

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An Iraqi asylum seeker who escaped war-torn country as a child is looking to a new career in law thanks to Gower College Swansea

Brwa Mina, known as Kardo by his classmates and friends, is currently studying Access to Law at the college.

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Kardo, who was born in Iraq, came to Wales as an asylum seeker in 2016.

“I chose this course because the law is an area that I am passionate about and really good at,” says Kardo. “Law is significant in everyday life – past, present, and future. It helps me gain the essential skills that I will need in my career and working life. The course is dynamic and competitive which suits my ambitious personality.”

Gower College Swansea has been like a second home to Kardo and he has benefited from extra support from his lecturers.

Before deciding to dedicate his studies to law, Kardo completed a L3 Health and Social Care course and a pre-A Level course in Science. At one point, he considered leaving College but the encouragement of the Health and Social Care teaching team persuaded him to change his mind.

“They insisted I stay and continue my studies because they could see my potential,” he says. “I owe them for that because they believed in me while I was at my lowest ebb.”

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Kardo has also developed a fantastic working relationship with his Access tutor Emma Richards, who has helped him with his coursework and has instilled in him the confidence to stretch himself and be the best he can be.

“I owe a lot of my current success and achievement to Emma as her motivation and support has kept me going forward,” says Kardo and adds:

“Being where I am now is pretty unbelievable. I was only a child when I became a victim of war, a war I had nothing to do with and which ripped my childhood away from me.

“I have used my past trauma as a motivation to push me forward and get stronger. In my spare time, I enjoy boxing as a hobby as this sport was like a teacher guiding me on the right path when I was lost.”

After College, Kardo intends to pursue a law degree and has received a number of university offers.

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“I want to graduate with a first-class honours degree and become the greatest commercial lawyer that I can be. I really enjoy debating and finding the best evidence to support my argument in discussions or team debates.”

“We are so delighted with the progress Kardo has made,” says Emma. “He has received all distinctions so far on his Access course and has received a well-deserved unconditional offer from his chosen university. He is an exceptional role model for others.”

(Lead image: Gower College Swansea)

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Gower College Swansea

Gower College Swansea celebrates Rainbow Week

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Students and staff at Gower College Swansea are taking part in Rainbow Week, an event dedicated to raising awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and celebrating inclusivity and the safe and supportive environment of the College.

The week was officially launched by hugely successful boxing manager and promoter Kellie Maloney who visited the Tycoch Campus to share her personal story of transitioning – an event which was livestreamed across the College for those who could not attend in person.

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Rainbow Week will also see the launch of Gower College Swansea’s Staff LGBTQ+ Network which aims to embrace the unique and diverse workforce, whilst providing a safe space where staff can connect with others, feel supported and raise any concerns.

“We pride ourselves on being an inclusive organisation and hold the Gold Corporate Health Standard Award in recognition of our policy for maintaining and promoting a high quality of health and wellbeing in the workplace,” says the College’s Director of HR, Sarah King.

“We are delighted that so many staff and students have responded so positively to our plans for Rainbow Week with many saying the planned activities and training will make them feel even more comfortable in talking about LGBTQ+ issues.”

Across the campuses, Pride flags are flying and among the many activities being held are competitions for the best rainbow cake decoration and best-dressed rainbow team.

Other highlights of Rainbow Week include a workshop on allyship training and a pre-recorded talk from Chad Cloete about his experience as a gay man within the LGBTQ+ community – both of which are delivered in partnership with Stonewall, the signing of Pride flags across the College, and the distribution of pronoun badges which have been designed by Art and Design students and endorsed by the College’s Equality and Diversity Committee.

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(Lead image: Gower College Swansea)

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Education

Gower College Swansea is top of class at UK-wide AAC Apprenticeship Awards

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Gower College Swansea has been recognised for its outstanding apprenticeship provision at the prestigious UK AAC Apprenticeship Awards 2022.

Winning both the Care Services Apprenticeship Provider of the Year Award and the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Apprenticeship Champion Award, the College has been recognised for its excellence, scooping two of the 24 awards that were available at the ceremony, chosen from 370 entries.

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Gower College Swansea had the most wins of any provider in the UK and was the only Welsh provider to receive an award on the evening.

These are the seventh national apprenticeship award-wins for the College over the past three years, following the College’s triumph at the TES FE Awards 2021, where they were named as having the UK Apprenticeship Programme of the Year.

Gower College Swansea has invested heavily in its service for additional learning needs (ALN) apprentices, with the number of learners rising from 1.6% in 2015 to 7.3% today. The ALN department has also expanded to now include dedicated Neurodiversity and Cognitive ALN specialists, among many other services that sets it apart from other apprenticeship providers.

Commenting on the College’s ALN provision is Head of Work Based Learning, Rachel Searle: “Our team demonstrates an exceptional commitment to apprentices with additional learning needs. We provide tailored diagnostic assessment and support to optimise the success of individuals with disabilities and we adjust our teaching techniques to suit their individual needs. Our additional support makes it a more inclusive and relaxed learning experience, from our 1-1 support, to the specialist equipment we offer such as C pens, laptops with specialist software, Dictaphones and overlays.

“As one of Wales’ largest providers of apprenticeships, inclusivity is critical to our operation, and we are proud to have been recognised for this. We hope to inspire even more individuals with additional learning needs to become apprentices, and we are there to support them every step of the way.”

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The Health and Social Care provision at the College has also experienced huge success since establishing over 20 years ago. With teaching staff that have a wealth of first-hand sector experience, apprentices can relax in the knowledge that apprenticeships are delivered by a team that understands the complex and challenging nature of the health and social care sector.

Paul Kift, Rachel Searle and Mark Jones from Gower College Swansea (Image: Gower College Swansea)

Commenting on the Care Services Apprenticeship Provider of the Year award win is Director of Skills and Business Development, Paul Kift: “I am hugely proud that our Health and Social Care team has been recognised for their dedication to our fantastic apprentices and employers. Our provision has always enjoyed an excellent reputation locally, but I am delighted that they now have that recognition on the UK stage.

“The health and social care sector has been under a huge amount of pressure over the past few years. When Covid first hit the UK, our team worked tirelessly to support the NHS to deliver clinical induction training and manual handling training to NHS workers. While others in the team volunteered to work at hospitals, supporting the vaccination programme for our local communities.

“Our hands-on approach to teaching, and our proactive collaborations with organisations of all sizes, helped 100% of our Health and Social Care apprentices remain in employment after completing their training with us – which really wasn’t easy for our staff, learners or employers in the midst of the pandemic.”

Principal of Gower College, Mark Jones, said: “We are immensely proud to have received both awards and to once again be recognised as one of the top UK apprenticeship providers. It is testimony to the high quality of our work in this area, as well as our focus on meeting national priorities.

Our close relationships with businesses across Wales and England means that we can offer recruitment and training solutions to businesses of all sizes; from small private companies and large multi-national organisations, to the public sector.

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“With the recent refurbishment of Sketty Hall Business School, we are also looking forward to expanding our offer even further and welcoming even more learners through our doors.”

(Lead image: Gower College Swansea)

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Business

Businesses say ‘We’ll come out with a much stronger workforce!’ after fully funded training opportunities

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Bluestone, Swansea Bay University Health Board and Tredz, are among the hundreds of Welsh organisations currently reaping the benefits of fully funded training.

From business administration and marketing, to sector-specific accredited courses across housing, manufacturing, and green technology; Gower College Swansea has nearly 100 fully funded courses available for businesses to utilise.

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One popular area of focus is the Digital Skills for Business programme, which equips people of all digital competencies with the skills to thrive in the ever-changing, digital world.

With many businesses now working remotely, there is a stronger need than ever for employees to demonstrate basic levels of digital know-how across a range of industries. Around 82% of all job roles require digital skills amongst their staff in some capacity, and Gower College Swansea is working towards closing the digital skills gap in Wales.

A business about to reap the benefits of the programme, is Welsh tourism giant, Bluestone, who’s staff are currently enrolled in several courses provided by Gower College Swansea.

Helen John, Bluestone Academy Manager

Helen John, Bluestone Academy Manager, said: “Historically, the hospitality industry isn’t portrayed as a career of choice and has the perception that it is low-skilled and low-paid.

“By giving accreditation through these training courses and by building the kudos, you’re going to change the mindset and perception of the industry.

“In Wales, and Pembrokeshire in particular, tourism and hospitality is one of our biggest employers. I think we need to start showcasing it as a great career to go into, and at Bluestone we value the people taking on these roles. The skills you need for this industry are a lot more than people give them credit for.”

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Swansea Bay University Health Board (SBUHB) have also focused on getting their team up to scratch, with Anne Davies benefiting hugely from the extra digital support through enrolling on the IT User course.

Anne Davies, Ward Administrator for the Acute Medicine Units (AMAU), said: “Part of my role is keeping on top of everyone’s training, which is a massive Excel spreadsheet. I’ve learnt tips on how better to organise it and how to get the most out of Word and Outlook.”

She explains how the course has helped her to build on her existing IT skills: “I love learning new things and I had a basic knowledge of the units covered so wanted to learn more and hopefully make my job easier.”

Another SBUHB member of staff who has further developed their IT skills through the course is Jenna Pickin, a Clinical Coder, she said: “Just go for it! There’s so much support and if you need something explaining further or in a different way, the tutors are really helpful. Knowing that you’ve got somebody there that’s either just a phone, email, or a click away was very beneficial.”

Fully funded, accredited courses span a huge breadth of skillsets and topics. Bike retailer, Tredz is taking advantage of available funding with almost 60 of their staff undertaking a range of Cytech bike courses through Gower College Swansea.

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Ceri Forward, People Business Partner for Tredz, said: “We rely on lots of people who are keen cyclists who kind of fall into the skill, but they pick up bad habits, and they’re not really taught. So what that Cytech training does is correct that, and it’s done in an accredited, consistent way… and we’ll come out with a much stronger workforce so it’s been really beneficial to Tredz.”

Courses are funded by the Skills for Industry project and the Personal Learning Account programme. The Skills for Industry project is aimed at private, public and voluntary sector organisations to invest in their workforce and is fully-funded by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government. A Personal Learning Account (PLA) is a programme funded by the Welsh Government, which allows those who meet the criteria to study part-time around their existing responsibilities and obtain skills and qualifications to change or progress their career.

If you would like to explore the courses offered through Gower College Swansea, contact the team directly on: training@gcs.ac.uk or call 01792 284 400. The deadline for course applications is 31st July 2022.

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