Apprenticeships are providing skilled and committed workers to help Conwy County Borough Council achieve its goal of sending zero waste to landfill.
Recycling 35,581 tonnes of waste during 2022-’23, Conwy currently ranks sixth out of 22 councils across Wales for the amount of waste it recycles and is hoping to achieve the Welsh Government’s 70% target this year.
From October 30, it’s illegal to sell single-use plastic in Wales, which will encourage businesses and consumers to help protect our planet.
Since 2013, 45 council employees from the waste collection and disposal teams have successfully completed Apprenticeships in Sustainable Recycling Activities and Systems Operational Management, delivered by leading pan-Wales work-based learning providing Cambrian Training Company.
Some employees have upgraded their skills and careers from operatives to managers by progressing from Foundation (Level 2) to Higher (Level 4) Apprenticeships.
The council, which operates a waste transfer station in Abergele and a materials recycling facility in Mochdre, currently has six Cambrian Training Company apprentices in its teams.
Danielle Richards, the council’s assistant waste disposal manager, is a former waste strategy apprentice herself and is passionate about work-based learning and waste management.
In fact, she was the council’s first apprentice in the waste management team between 2005-’07 and has recently qualified as a chartered waste manager.
She says apprenticeships are imperative if the country is to fill a national skills gap in the waste recycling and management industry.
“Waste and recycling will always need to be managed and Conwy County Borough Council is trying to build resilience in its services by ensuring that we have skilled and versatile staff on site who have the capacity to progress,” said Danielle.
“Apprenticeships are extremely important because they give people the opportunity to work and learn at the same time and their confidence comes on in leaps and bounds, which is then transferred to the workplace.”
She praised the support provided to apprentices by Cambrian Training Company. “They understand the skills gap that we are trying to fill and the resilience that we are trying to build within our team,” she added.
One of Danielle’s colleagues who has worked his way up from a refuse and recycling operative to a recycling education officer, after completing apprenticeships at Levels 2-4, is Rory Woller, 31, from Llanfairfechain.
Having worked for the council for 12 years, he now manages a team of four community recycling officers.
“When I first joined the authority, I was determined to develop a career whereby I would keep climbing the ladder,” he said. “I am committed to this sector now and any future employment would possibly be in site management or waste regulations.
“An apprenticeship shows the level of learning that you are capable of achieving and demonstrates that you are committed to improving yourself and your professional development.”
The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.