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  • Lawrence Bailey

Re-building the future with skills

Way back in the dawn of time, I first walked through a pair of factory gates to begin what would become a long-term career in manufacturing.

It was a very different world. Like many of my generation, I was the beneficiary of comparatively full employment, with an wide choice of industrial and commercial opportunities.

I started off as a trade apprentice. It wasn’t much of a culture shock. In fact, to a 17-year old, listening to instructors didn’t feel all that different to the school I’d left - except the equipment we used was a bit more modern and they put money in your hands at the end of the week.

Things were geared to acquiring skills and betterment as an individual. The approach was reinforced by a compulsory academic programme that supplemented on-the-job training.

There was a combination of day-release and night-school at the local college which eventually saw me emerge as a skilled tradesman. Full academic qualifications followed a few years later.

In my day, the place to go was West Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education, situated up in Mount Pleasant.

Nearly fifty years later, I’m delighted to see continuity in action as its successor body, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD), forges effective links between work and academic achievement.

Their Degree Apprenticeships, run over four years with off-the-job training available on a day release basis at the University’s Swansea campus, are fully-funded by the Welsh Government.

Courses include Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering, Software Engineering, Data Science, Cyber Security and Networks plus Ordnance, Munitions & Explosives.

I remember that workplace quality standards for apprenticeships were regulated in the past by bodies like the Engineering Industry Training Board (EITB) – now sadly defunct.

So it’s good to hear that modern day apprentices are supported throughout their programme by a Liaison Officer who visits firms regularly, providing the link between the academic studies and workplace learning.

You can find out more about Degree Apprenticeships by calling 0300 500 5054 or emailing

Alternatively, you can go along to their information event on Tuesday, 4 February: 8am – 9.30am at the Dylan Thomas Centre, Somerset Place, Swansea, SA1 1RR

Do just one thing to make a difference

It won’t come as much of a surprise for you to learn that I’m backing the South Wales Evening Post #Do1Thing campaign to promote environmental awareness.

I know it sometimes seems that the whole ‘save-the-planet’ thing is overplayed – especially if you’re the current incumbent of the Oval Office.

Yet take a visit to any beach in the country and start counting the discarded plastic items. You’ll soon see the scale of the impact that we have on our surroundings, not to mention the ecology and wildlife.

The fact is that we’re all involved in this, in one way or another. What’s more, the moment we decide that it’s not our responsibility to go picking up stuff after others is the moment we accept things as they’ve become.

The idea that each of us can do just one thing to make a difference may seem a bit trite on the surface but it’s a powerful proposition nonetheless. I’m in.

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