BEING made redundant from his job as a print finisher in 2020, after 19 years’ service, turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Sion Jones.
The 37-year-old father of two from Penparcau, Aberystwyth says his quality of life and happiness have improved enormously since becoming an apprentice carpenter.
Sion, who works for Owen Evans Carpentry based at Trisant, near Aberystwyth, is working towards a bilingual Level 3 Apprenticeship in Wood Occupations through City & Guilds, delivered by Hyfforddiant Ceredigion Training, having completed his Foundation Apprenticeship last year.
Due to his passion for apprenticeships and the Welsh language, he has been appointed an Apprenticeship Ambassador by Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol and the National Training Federation of Wales (NTfW).
Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol leads the development of Welsh medium and bilingual education and training in the post-compulsory sector in Wales and the NTfW represents work-based learning providers across Wales.
“I was disappointed when I was made redundant because I had worked for the company for such a long time,” said Sion. “However, “Personally, it has turned out to be a blessing in disguise because, although I enjoyed my job, I was unhappy with working night shifts and long hours which kept me from my family.
“I wish I had chosen to do apprenticeship in carpentry years ago. I have always liked to try DIY at home and I jumped at the chance to do an apprenticeship with Owen after trying the job for two months during the pandemic.
“My job is so flexible, no two days are the same because we work on different sites and I am home at 5pm most days. When I worked in the factory, every day was the same.”
Delighted to be appointed an Apprenticeship Ambassador, Sion said Welsh is his first language and is spoken fluently by his family, workmates and many customers.
“The Welsh language is very important to me and it’s nice that we use it when working on sites,” he added. “Many of the older people we work for are Welsh speakers who feel more comfortable talking to us in their first language.
“I am very happy to promote the language and to speak about my apprenticeship and my job. Apprenticeships are brilliant because they allow you to earn while you learn new skills in the workplace. No matter what age you are, you will definitely benefit from an apprenticeship.”
Craig Davies, carpentry training adviser at Hyfforddiant Ceredigion Training, describes Sion as an “exceptional learner” who picks up knowledge and skills quickly.
“Sion is a perfect example of what a learner should be,” he said. “I have told him he should have become a carpenter 20 years ago because he’s a natural and a hard worker.”
Lisa Mytton, the NTfW’s strategic director, said: “Many workplaces are becoming more bilingual, so completing an apprenticeship bilingually or in Welsh can increase an individual’s confidence to work in both languages and their employability.
“Our Apprenticeship Ambassadors are excellent role models for apprenticeships, highlighting the benefits of learning and working bilingually in the workplace.”
Elin Williams, from the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, said: “This is the third year running that we have appointed ambassadors for the apprenticeship sector, and we think this is a vital tool in showing people that it is possible to continue with your bilingual learning through the apprenticeship route.
“With the Welsh Governments target to reach one million Welsh speakers by 2050, it has never been more important to develop your bilingual skills and increase your employability prospects.”
The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.
To find out more about apprenticeship opportunities go to Careers Wales https://careerswales.gov.wales/apprenticeships or telephone 0800 028 4844.