A top apprentice is on course for a hat-trick of awards.
Cartrefi Conwy employee Emily Jones, 20, scored a double triumph after scooping two Apprentice of the Year awards.
She beat off competition from nearly 2,000 apprentices to win the main Grwyp Coleg Llandrillo Menai Apprentice of the Year 2016 title.
Then she went on to secure the Chartered Institute of Housing Wales Apprentice of the Year trophy, presented at its annual conference in Cardiff.
Emily, 20, said she was over the moon to receive the first title but to win the double was ‘just amazing’.
It means she is now in contention for the overall UK Chartered Institute of Housing top apprentice prize.
Emily said: “I will be up against regional winners from all over the UK in that one so the competition will be very tough. But I’ve decided I’m not going to think about the award on the night, I’m just going to look forward to the evening itself and whatever happens it will be a great chance to meet lots of interesting colleagues from the housing industry.”
Emily chose to apply for an apprenticeship instead of going to university on completing her A-levels and says it was the best decision she has ever made.
She joined Cartrefi Conwy in July 2014 as a business administration apprentice within the organisation’s building maintenance unit.
Cartrefi Conwy manages more than 3,700 properties throughout Conwy, making it one of North Wales’s foremost providers of affordable, quality homes.
Emily said: “I relished the idea of doing hands on training, working and receiving a wage at the same time as studying and learning from people already in a job. I believed I would benefit from the mentoring of work colleagues with their practical skills and years of experience dealing with all situations.
“I was so lucky to get my apprenticeship with Cartrefi Conwy as the training they offer is first class, plus it includes the opportunity to gain a degree level qualification further along in my career, so I have the best of both worlds.”
Her bosses have been impressed with Emily’s enthusiasm, saying she quickly became an integral part of the team and showed a real understanding of her role.
Today Emily is responsible for compiling the minutes from a series of complex meetings relating to all aspects of servicing, maintaining and improving homes across Conwy. Her duties also include processing time sheets, raising purchase orders, administering electrical certificates, and general administration tasks such as scanning and laminating documents and taking telephone calls. She also spends one day a week working in a remote office, assisting the home finder and housing allocations teams.
Homefinder Manager Lesley Cullen said: “During an extremely busy transition period, Emily came in to assist the home finder team with contacting tenants and providing general administrative support. She quickly understood our department’s responsibilities and services and her professional, thorough approach to any task given proved invaluable.
She is a pleasure to work with, self-assured but at the same time not afraid to ask if she doesn’t understand and nothing is too much trouble for her.”
Emily said: “My role is so varied, it never stops being interesting. I knew little about the housing sector until I joined Cartrefi Conwy. Now that I am here I love it and I definitely want to continue working in the housing and building field. There are so many different aspects to it, from the construction techniques to the very human aspects of helping provide homes to those who need them. At the moment I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.”
As part of the process of gaining her Chartered Institute of Housing Wales award Emily gave a presentation on how to promote housing as a career choice for young people.
It is a subject on which she feels strongly. During National Apprenticeship week in 2015 she was also involved in raising the profile and value of apprenticeships by visiting a local school where she answered questions and advised students to consider apprenticeships as a career option.
Emily is also first in line when it comes to helping with volunteer events and charity fundraising activities on behalf of Cartrefi Conwy. She has helped with a bulb planting session at Tre Cwym estate, Llandudno, and an Older Persons Day at Venue Cymru, Llandudno, where she was praised for the way she interacted with older tenants.
In addition Emily joined colleagues dressed as zombies and danced to Michael Jackson’s hit Thriller to raise money for charity at last year’s St David’s Hospice Dragon Boat Race event.
Emily – whose long term ambition is to one day run her own property company – is the daughter of Anwen and Emrys Jones, and grew up in Llandudno Junction where she still lives. She went to Ysgol Mael Gwyn, then Ysgol Creuddyn, where she studied her GCSEs and A-levels.
Emily said: “My parents have been right behind me. They are thrilled when I won, not just one but two awards. I can’t thank mum and dad enough for their support.”
Away from work she is a karate black belt and a keen walker, having scaled Mount Snowdon several times.
Helen Edwards, Head of Human Resources at Cartrefi Conwy said: “Our apprenticeships have been a huge success so far. I would thoroughly recommend Apprenticeships as a practical cost-effective route to recruit and grow your own talent. They can increase productivity and often bring a huge amount of enthusiasm to the business.
“We’ve been really impressed by some of the apprentices we’ve had over the years, who now have a raft of experience and skills to help them secure employment and develop their careers.”
Emily was also a finalist at Conwy Business Awards 2016, where Cartrefi Conwy subsidiary Creating Enterprise took the Social Enterprise of the Year title.