Welsh speaking apprentice electrician Ifan Wyn Phillips is the third generation to join the family business established by his grandfather in Pembrokeshire.
Ifan, 20, who lives in Crymych, works for D. E. Phillips and Sons Ltd, electrical contractors who work on residential, commercial and agricultural properties.
He’s working towards a Foundation Apprenticeship in Electrical Installation, delivered bilingually by Pembrokeshire College and hopes to progress to an apprenticeship in September.
Ifan chose to follow the apprenticeship pathway into the family business as university didn’t appeal to him. “I prefer to work with my hands and the apprenticeship is an opportunity to work, learn and get paid,” he said.
Having achieved four ‘A’ Levels at Ysgol y Preseli through the medium of Welsh, it’s important to Ifan that his apprenticeship is being delivered bilingually.
His passion for promoting bilingual apprenticeships has led to his appointment as an Apprenticeship Ambassador by Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol and the National Training Federation of Wales (NTfW).
Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol leads the development of Welsh medium and bilingual education and training in the post-compulsory sector in Wales and the NTfW represents work-based learning providers across Wales. Ifan is also a Welsh language ambassador for Pembrokeshire College.
“As Welsh is my first language, it’s much easier for me to do my apprenticeship bilingually,” said Ifan. “Everyone working in the business and most of the local population speaks Welsh.
“Being an apprenticeship and Welsh language ambassador is a great opportunity for me to promote learning through Welsh. If I fulfil the role responsibly, hopefully I can inspire a new generation to learn the language and contribute towards the Welsh Government’s target of one million Welsh speakers by 2050.
“I would like to get as many people as possible learning the language and developing their Welsh through work and university. The language has been around since the fifth century and it’s very important that it carries on.”
Pembrokeshire College is trying its best to help Ifan and fellow Welsh speaking learners to continue their learning in their first language.
Electrical installation tutor Roger Phillips enrolled on the Welsh Government’s Cymraeg Gwaith (Work Welsh) programme with the aim of increasing Welsh language opportunities for learners in the college workshop where he works.
The programme gave him the confidence to speak more Welsh and to identify English paperwork for practical workshop exercises and assessments that could be translated with help from Janice Morgan, the college’s Welsh language development officer.
“Together we have provided Ifan and other Welsh speaking learners with more opportunities to use their first language within their apprenticeship,” said Janice.
“Around 11% of our students are Welsh speakers but this number is increasing and the college recognises the need to provide opportunities for them to use the language within their learning programmes.”
Welsh Language Minister Eluned Morgan said: “It is fantastic that apprentices are being given the opportunity to complete their training programme through the medium of Welsh.
“It is important services like these are provided bilingually, as it strengthens the use of the language in day to day life and ensures speaking Welsh remains a valuable skill for employment.
“We have provided funding to support Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol’s Ambassador Scheme and it’s great to see people benefitting from this. I wish the best of luck to apprentices completing their training programmes and hope they enjoy long and successful careers.”
Ryan Evans’ role as the NTfW’s bilingual champion is to support training providers across Wales to increase their ability to deliver more apprenticeships bilingually or through the medium of Welsh.
“Many workplaces are becoming more bilingual, so completing an apprenticeship bilingually or in Welsh can increase an individual’s confidence to work in both languages and their employability,” he said.
“Our Apprenticeship Ambassadors are excellent role models for apprenticeships, highlighting the benefits of learning and working bilingually in the workplace.”
Elin Williams, from the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, said: “This is the second year running that we have appointed ambassadors for the apprenticeship sector, and we think this is a vital tool in showing people that it is possible to continue with your bilingual learning through the apprenticeship route.
“With the Welsh Governments target to reach one million Welsh speakers by 2050, it has never been more important to develop your bilingual skills and increase your employability prospects.”
The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.