GRADUATE Sophie Williams was aiming for a teaching career until she witnessed the beneficial impact that fostering has on the lives of children and their biological parents, who are given a chance to get their lives back on track.

After experiencing fostering first hand when her mum, Lesley, became a foster parent, Sophie decided to strive to become a qualified social worker.

Sophie, 24, who lives in Hirwaun, had already graduated from Swansea University with a degree in French and Spanish and had planned to do a Postgraduate Certificate in Education.

However, she opted instead to become an apprentice with Fostering RCT in September 2019 and has recently been promoted to regional recruitment officer.

Now Sophie has been shortlisted for the Tomorrow’s Talent award at the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2021.

This annual celebration of outstanding achievement in training and apprenticeships will see 35 finalists compete in 12 categories for awards. The winners will be announced at a virtual awards ceremony on April 29.

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.

Sophie Williams, inspired by foster service

During her time with the council, Sophie has liaised with and visited fostering applicants and compiled life journey books for foster children, giving them an understanding of why they are in care. She has also cared for vulnerable and challenging children within residential services whilst on secondment.

Having completed an Apprenticeship in Business Administration, which was delivered by Coleg y Cymoedd, Sophie hopes to return to university in the future to take a Master’s Degree in Social Work.

“I really enjoy my work with fostering,” she said. “After seeing first-hand the positive impact that love and care has on foster children, I wanted to work in and promote the service to encourage more people to consider fostering.

“My apprenticeship has given me the chance to gain full time employment, get qualified and to see the many different aspects of social work.”

Alastair Cope, Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council’s regional development manager, describes Sophie as “inspirational” and praised her support of young people in care.

“In a short time, she has achieved an incredible amount,” she said. “Without Sophie’s support and willingness to take on any task, we may well have struggled to maintain some of our services during the pandemic.”

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.”