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Apprenticeships at the heart of family construction business

The third generation of a family is now running successful construction business TRJ Ltd in Ammanford which was founded by former apprentice T. Richard Jones in 1935.

Some 89 years later, the company is still employing apprentices, ensuring a constant stream of construction talent for South West Wales.

In addition to employing 160 people, including 16 apprentices, TRJ Ltd provides work for around 100 local sub-contractors. Over the past five years, the company has employed 43 apprentices and supports award-winning shared apprenticeships and traditional apprenticeship programmes through Cyfle Building Skills and Coleg Sir Gâr.

Now, TRJ Ltd has been shortlisted for the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2024 as a Medium Employer of the Year finalist.

Highlight of the year for apprentices, employers and work-based learning providers and practitioners, the awards are organised by the Welsh Government and supported by the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). Headline sponsor is EAL.

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony to be held at ICC Wales, Newport on March 22, 2024. The awards highlight the outstanding achievements of employers, apprentices and work-based learning practitioners.

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Apprenticeships are at the core of the business whose mantra is ‘building on a firm foundation’. Nine former apprentices now hold management or supervisory roles.

Apprenticeships from Foundation to Higher Levels are provided in Carpentry, Bricklaying, Plastering, Construction and Civil Engineering Operations, Plant Mechanics, Multi-skilled Operatives, Quantity Surveying, Construction Management and Painting and Decorating. They are delivered by Coleg Sir Gâr, Neath Port Talbot College and Bridgend College.

TRJ Ltd director Owain Jones is a CITB trustee and involved in developing a new delivery model of construction training. The company piloted a Foundation Apprenticeship in Construction and Civil Engineering Operations, in partnership with Coleg Sir Gâr and CITB, which was completed by 30 apprentices.

Apprentices learn a variety of construction trade skills across the business, supported by an online learning portal. Last year, the company also supported 60 weeks of work experience placements, a critical part of the recruitment process.

“Learning and development are a key part of the company’s commitment to developing our employees’ careers,” said Stuart Thomas, TRJ Ltd’s social value and training officer. “The founder began his career as an apprentice carpenter, who then built the company and instilled in others the importance of education and development.”

Gareth David, Coleg Sir Gâr’s work-based learning operational manager, said: “TRJ has always been a supporter and advocate for apprenticeships. Around a quarter of their workforce is either a current or former apprentice.”

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething congratulated TRJ Ltd and all the other finalists. “Today’s apprentices will be tomorrow’s specialists, and Apprenticeship Awards Cymru allows us to recognise apprentices, work-based learning practitioners, and employers that have gone above and beyond,” he said.

“Their tenacity, passion, and commitment to growing their own careers, the careers of others, and the larger Welsh economy is inspiring. I wish each of the finalists the best of luck at the awards and with their future endeavours.”

Congratulating the finalists, Al Parkes, managing director at EAL, said: “As the specialist awarding organisation and skills partner for the engineering and manufacturing industry, apprenticeships in Wales are especially important to us. 

“Apprenticeships play an important role in supporting personal progress through career opportunities and a sense of achievement, while ensuring that employers have the right skills at the right time to keep up with evolving industry needs. 

“EAL is committed to encouraging employers to take on apprentices. Marking the achievements of employers, apprentices and work-based learning practitioners at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru is vital to this.”

For more information about recruiting an apprentice, visit: https://gov.wales/apprenticeships-genius-decision or call 03000 603000.

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