A Newport teenager is benefitting from vocational training on offer with a Cardiff business.
Hannah Needs, 19, from Newport, is currently undertaking a Level 1 Pre-Apprenticeship programme with ACT and The Stitching Boutique. Tamzin Ford, owner of The Stitching Boutique in Cardiff, is no stranger to vocational training after getting her foot on the career ladder back in 1990 with an NVQ which was, and still is, a well-tested pattern to get into work.
Tamzin is now leading the way for other small businesses, proving how vocational qualifications can benefit both the business and the individual.
After completing an NVQ (a qualification which is now called QCF) with ACT Training more than 26 years ago, Tamzin remembers how valuable her qualification was and how it set her up for working life.
As a result, she now has two young learners, including Hannah, supporting her at The Stitching Boutique.
By partnering with ACT, Wales' leading training provider, Tamzin has taken learners under her wing, providing them with vital work experience within the interior design industry.
Hannah said: "After college, I knew that it was essential to get some work experience under my belt, which is why I started at ACT. They have provided me with a huge amount of employability training and also matched me up with The Stitching Boutique. I know that this has given me the edge compared to my peers and it has definitely kick-started my career in the fashion industry.
"Tamzin has been amazing and I have had the opportunity to make a variety of things, including interior items and a wedding fascinator."
Hannah will be going to college to study a diploma in fashion in September.
Vocational training is something which is deeply embedded in Tamzin's business.
Not only are trainees part of her recruitment strategy to help fill her skills gap in an affordable and sustainable way, Tamzin also continues to up skill herself with Leadership and Management Level 5 qualification, ensuring that she remains at the top of her game.
Tamzin is a true vocational training ambassador, so much so that she encouraged her son Ellis to follow in her footsteps by signposting him to ACT when he left school. Ellis Ford completed a Traineeship at ACT in 2015 and is currently looking for an Apprenticeship opportunity.Â
Tamzin said: "It's so important to stay current in business. It's really competitive and cut throat and the only way you are going to be current is through constantly upskilling yourself and upskilling and investing in your team.
"I also think it is vitally important for young people to learn through experience, that is how I did it back when I was 17 and I am thrilled that my business can support young people like Hannah.
"Vocational qualifications are becoming increasingly popular for small companies like mine across a range of sectors, including interior design. It's not just those sectors who you traditionally associate with apprenticeship programmes. There are hundreds out there."
Andrew Cooksley, managing director of ACT, said: "I am incredibly proud of Tamzin's success and that fact that she continues to work with us. She is an example of someone who has harnessed vocational achievements and progression to start up a business.
"I am also thrilled that she is also supporting us in our mission to support young people by providing outstanding learning opportunities and work experience for our learners."