Singing to the wall was breakthrough moment for award finalist Tamsin

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Traineeships Learner of the Year (Engagement) finalist Tamsin Austen, a student at Coleg Menai , Llangefni Penrallt Campus after successfully completing her course

When Tamsin Austen picked up her guitar and sang to an audience for the first time, it was a stunning, flawless performance.

The problem was that Tamsin could perform only by facing the wall with her back to the audience such was her lack of self-belief.

But it was a breakthrough moment for the 18-year-old from Llangefni who for years was bullied at school, suffering confidence issues that led to poor attendance and subsequently no formal qualifications.

Those anxiety issues were heightened by an initial poor choice of career path when a placement in a beauty salon saw her retreat back into herself. It was from this low point that Tamsin enrolled on the Traineeship Engagement AIM4 programme for team building and motivation through Grŵp Llandrillo Menai.

Tamsin’s learning journey has put her in contention to win a major award at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2015. She is one of three finalists shortlisted in the Traineeship (Engagement) Learner of the Year category at the high profile awards ceremony to be held at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport on Thursday, October 29.

The coveted awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of those who have exceeded expectations, shown a dynamic approach to training and demonstrated initiative, enterprise, innovation, creativity and commitment to the improvement of skills development for the Welsh economy.

Jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), the awards are sponsored by Pearson PLC and media partner is Media Wales. The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

Tamsin’s performances helped her realise that music was her first love and she applied for a Music Level 2 college course. Although the course had been running for six weeks she gave a successful audition and caught up with the peers and is now thriving as a confident musical performer.

Eric Christie, of Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, said: “Tamsin’s journey was not about seeking answers from others but the journey within herself. Singing to people was the breakthrough to her transformation.”

Tamsin said: “It feels silly now performing to a wall, but at the time I had to face far more scary things than people’s faces.”

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Julie James congratulated Tamsin and the other 36 award finalists. “We have some truly exceptional apprentices and learners here in Wales and the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru provide a perfect platform for us to celebrate their hard work and achievements,” she said.

“Equally important are the training providers and employers who go the extra mile to support their apprentices. Developing skilled young people is vital for our economy. The Welsh Government is committed to training programmes such as Apprenticeships but investment must be a shared responsibility with the education sector, businesses and individuals.”