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Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2021 Penarth finalist Natalie Morgan

AFTER working within the performing arts sector for several years in London, a Penarth woman has returned to Wales to pursue a career in sport, securing a job with Welsh Gymnastics.

Natalie Morgan, 33, from Penarth, went on to successfully complete a Higher Apprenticeship (Level 4) in Leadership and Management with Cardiff-based Portal Training and has now progressed to Level 5.

Using the skills she learnt during her apprenticeship, Natalie was able to lead a successful outreach project to engage with young girls and women from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community in Cardiff which led to the formation of a gymnastics club for them.

Launched with 11 girls, the club grew to more than 130, increasing numbers by 98% in just 18 months. Welsh Gymnastics achieved its aim of building a club run by the community itself, as all 10 adult volunteers have now become qualified coaches, supported by 16 young sports leaders.

The project has also been successful in building relationships outside of the club. Welsh Gymnastics has developed strong partnerships with organisations including Diverse Cymru, Mount Stuart Primary School and Cardiff Council.

Now Natalie is in the running for the Higher Apprentice of the Year award at the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2021. The winners will be announced at a virtual awards ceremony on April 29.

This annual celebration of outstanding achievement in training and apprenticeships will see 35 finalists compete in 12 categories for awards.

Highlight of the work-based learning calendar, the awards showcase businesses and individuals who have excelled on the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship and Traineeship Programmes and gone the extra mile to achieve success during these unprecedented times.

The awards are jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). Openreach, the UK’s digital network business and passionate supporter of apprenticeships, has renewed its headline sponsorship of the awards.

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

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Natalie, who has also launched her own small business, The Sweet and Sound Co, said: “My apprenticeship and the support of my mentor not only allowed me to gain skills within project management itself, but an array of management competencies.

“It helped me to lead a successful project and make a difference in the Cardiff community as well as to have the self-confidence to take on bigger, more challenging projects.

“My apprenticeship has hugely benefited both my personal and professional life.”

Natalie is now working on two further projects as a result of her apprenticeship: one with Early Years Wales and the other for UEFA, in collaboration with Disney, to promote physical literacy through storytelling.

Carys Kizito, Welsh Gymnastics’ compliance manager, said: “The contribution that Natalie made to our Black and Minority Ethnic project was immeasurable. She dedicated extra time to supporting the success of the project whilst working two other jobs and completing her ILM.

“She has used her passion and commitment to learning to provide quality opportunities for others.”

Minister for the Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates, said: “Our Apprenticeship and Traineeship Programmes are helping people fulfil their career ambitions and I’m delighted we have already reached our target of creating 100,000 apprenticeships in this Senedd term. 

“This has been key in helping apprentices of all ages to gain important skills and experience that we know businesses across all sectors of the economy in Wales really need. This will be vital as we emerge from the pandemic.

“Apprenticeship Awards Cymru provides an excellent opportunity to celebrate and showcase the achievements of all involved, from star apprentices to skilled learning providers.

“I’d like to congratulate all the finalists announced for this year’s event and wish each and every one all the best for the future.”

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