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Former Principal in New Year's Honours List

NEW YEAR HONOURS: Skills champion and former principal recognised in New Year’s Honours for Services to Skills and Young People in Wales

Barry Liles, Skills Champion for Wales and Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) has been recognised in the Queen’s Honours for his Services to Skills and Young People in Wales.

A former Principal of Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion, Barry Liles receives an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the New Year’s Honours list announced on 29 December.  

He said: “I feel extremely privileged to be recognised in the New Year’s honours but appreciate that I owe so much to others who have supported me. I am so grateful to my former staff at the colleges, colleagues and stakeholders without whom this recognition would not have been possible.”

Barry is currently Pro Vice-Chancellor responsible for Skills & Lifelong Learning at UWTSD where he continues to create opportunities for young people to further their careers and to provide them with the right skills for progression into sustainable employment. He is also the Chair of the Carmarthenshire Public Services Board and Vice Chair of the Regional Learning & Skills Partnership, he contributes to a number of industrial and employer fora and has been influential in many regional and national skills development initiatives.

Barry is a keen advocate of skills development, particularly through work based learning apprenticeships, having started his career as an engineering apprentice himself at Coleg Sir Gâr.  He says: “The skills landscape is changing fast with the advent of new and emerging technologies. The provision of skills development is critical to prepare young people for employment and also for improving the economy of the region.”

He is a Trustee and Board member of Worldskills UK representing the interests of Wales and as the Skills Champion for Wales since 2009, he has led the development of Team Wales which prepares young people for international skills competitions. The success of which has seen a year-on-year growth in the number of Welsh competitors and those who have achieved outstanding success at national and international competitions. It is an achievement for which he is particularly proud, in particular the success of Welsh competitors at the bi-annual Worldskills competitions, having witnessed four Welsh competitors, as part of Team UK, return with Medallions of Excellence from the last Worldskills competition held in Abu Dhabi.

Barry retired as Principal and CEO of Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion last year having worked at the college for 35 years, including as its leader for 8 years. In 2013, he led the merger of Coleg Sir Gâr into a group structure with UWTSD creating a unique dual sector university serving the needs of South West Wales. In 2017 he led the integration of Coleg Ceredigion with Coleg Sir Gâr, delivering a broad provision of schools based programmes, further education, workbased learning and higher education via seven campuses across Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

Barry continues to be at the forefront of the transformation of education in Wales and is actively involved in a range of collaborative initiatives aimed at responding to the current and future economic and social imperatives of the region.

“I am delighted that Barry Liles has been recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours for his services to skills and young people in Wales” said Professor Medwin Hughes, DL, Vice-Chancellor of UWTSD. “He is a true proponent of the transformative role of education and skills development in creating opportunities to transform the life chances of individuals and communities. Congratulations on this wonderful achievement.

Dr Andrew Cornish, Principal at Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion added: “The Governors and I are so pleased that Barry has been recognised by the Queen in this way.

"He has worked tirelessly throughout his career supporting skills and young people in the region and across Wales.  His contribution to Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion is immeasurable and this honour is so deserved.  All the staff and students across the college will be delighted for him.”

Source: UWTSD


UK Squad selection for world-class skills

A Coleg Sir Gâr apprentice hairdresser and an aspiring retail designer have proved they have world class talent following their selection to the WorldSkills UK Squad.

Ellie Hanley, 19 from Haverfordwest and Phoebe McLavy, 20 from Carmarthen, have been selected for Squad UK to train for a chance to represent Great Britain in Russia next year at WorldSkills, the globe’s biggest biennial skills competition. 

Apprentice hairdresser Phoebe, who is employed by Morgan Edwards in Carmarthen has been successful in a range of regional and national competitions including WorldSkills UK Live, a competition final held every year at Birmingham NEC.

Edward Rees, owner at Morgan Edward has been supporting Phoebe through her competition journey and providing training within his salon. He said: “Two years ago Phoebe began her WorldSkills journey as a young, motivated but very inexperienced hairdresser.  

“Through her hard work and dedication to her craft she has competed all over the country and won several awards along the way.  

“Today she is a highly qualified and talented member of the UK Squad and as a salon we have committed time and energy into her development and now have an asset in Phoebe.  

“I would urge other employers to guide their staff down this exciting career path.”

Phoebe McLavy added: “Competing and training has been an amazing experience which has taken me as far as Budapest and Italy for the EuroSkills training camp and locally, my employer and college are investing in additional training. 

Ellie Hanley, who has been selected for Squad UK’s visual merchandising team is also familiar with competition success and has taken part in a range of regional and national events including WorldSkills UK Live in Birmingham where she won a silver medal in 2016. She said: “'Going to WorldSkills Live at the NEC was a truly incredible experience. 

“Transforming a plain window booth into a fashion focused display with hundreds of onlookers was very scary and incredibly pressurising. 

“I am overjoyed to have been selected for Squad UK and I cannot wait to get stuck into all the intense training over the next few months.”

The Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales (ISEiW) project is a Welsh Government funded initiative that encourages and supports all Welsh competitors taking part in WorldSkills competitions and offer support across the board, from regional Skills Competition Wales events to international level.  

Paul Evans, pan-Wales coordinator for ISEiW said: “It’s a tough competition process but it’s highly supportive of competitors to ensure they are competing at world standard level. 

“It’s also a highly competitive process which involves an intense training regime, supported by WorldSkills mentors, employers, training providers and colleges to ensure the very best are selected for Team UK to compete at WorldSkills.”

WorldSkills is the equivalent of the Olympics in skills and the 2017 Abu Dhabi event attracted 1,251 competitors from 59 countries which attraced more than 150,000 visitors. 

Coleg Sir Gâr has a reputation for success in competing on a global level since 2009, representing areas including web design, carpentry, plastering and dry lining, restaurant services and hairdressing. 

Pics, from left, Coleg Sir Gâr students Phoebe McLavy and Ellie Hanley who have been selected to compete in WorldSkills Squad UK.


Two silver medals in all-Wales IT competition

Two students at Coleg Sir Gâr have been named second in Wales in a Welsh final of a competition where they both won silver awards for their IT skills. 

Kieran Davies won silver in the advanced IT support technician category and Dan Roberts, a former Coedcae student, won silver for website design at a Skills Competition Wales event held in Coleg Gwent.

The web design brief asked competitors from colleges across Wales to create a five page website entitled Tour of Britain which tested skills in HTML, CSS and Java Script. “Winning silver was totally unexpected,” said Dan Roberts. “But it was a nice surprise and I’m proud of the achievement.”

The advanced IT support technician category was Kieran’s first experience of competing and he kept calm under pressure. “It was challenging but good,” said Kieran, who has been working with Dan learning additional skills in preparation for the competition in the college’s IT Academy. 

Kieran, a former Strade student, is studying an extended diploma in computing and as a member of the Llanelli cadets, is aspiring to work for the RAF as an IT technician. Dan is studying an extended diploma in ICT and is hoping to progress to university. 

Skills Competition Wales consists of a series of local skills competitions, aligned to WorldSkills competitions and the needs of the Welsh economy, funded by the Welsh Government. Competitions aim to raise the profile of skills in Wales and offers students, trainees and apprentices in Wales a chance to challenge, benchmark and raise their skills to potentially an international standard.

Denise Hudson, assistant head for computing and engineering at Coleg Sir Gâr said: “The computing lecturing team are extremely proud of Kieran and Dan who both prepared well for their individual competitions and have proved to be very successful.  

“Hopefully, they will progress to the UK Skills competitions, which will be held next year, with possibly an opportunity to take part in WorldSkills UK final in Birmingham in November next year.”

Mike David, WorldSkills training manager and Coleg Sir Gâr computing lecturer said: “Dan produced an excellent promotional website for a recent Tour of Britain cycle race and narrowly missed out on getting the gold medal. 

“It was clear from the high standard of his work that he had benefited from attending the Web Design Skills Academy, one of five academy sessions provided by the computing department. 

“Students are free to select the academy that interests them the most, ranging from coding, hardware, IT networking, IT software solutions and web design and over the last few years the academies have provided students with additional skills required by industry and in addition, trained students in readiness to take part in international competitions."

Jason Lovell, computing lecturer and training advisor at Coleg Sir Gâr said: “Congratulations to Kieran who has been an excellent student attending all the IT advanced support technician academy sessions. He performed particularly well on the day of the finals as his particular competition was the last to start on the day plus he also experienced technical difficulties with the hardware supplied which could have distracted less focussed competitors.”



Anna wins gold for fashion skills

A student from Betws has won gold in a Skills Competition Wales event for her skills in fashion design. 

Anna Yates battled competition from other colleges in a Welsh final competing in the category of fashion design technology.

Studying a degree honours course in fashion at Coleg Sir Gâr’s Carmarthen School of Art has equipped Anna with the skills needed to complete the task of designing a six-piece white shirt collection, one of which was produced in the live final.

Skills Competition Wales consists of a series of local skills competitions, aligned to WorldSkills competitions and the needs of the Welsh economy, funded by the Welsh Government. Competitions aim to raise the profile of skills in Wales and offers students, trainees and apprentices in Wales a chance to challenge, benchmark and raise their skills to potentially an international standard.

Jamie Hawkins, head of fashion at Coleg Sir Gâr said: “Anna really pushed herself in term of design concept for this competition. 

“Her pattern cutting skills, construction and organisation skills prior to the day were highly articulate which meant on the on the live final she could put together the shirt with ease under immense pressure.”


Brandon through to culinary arts final

A student at Coleg Sir Gâr has reached the Welsh final of an advanced culinary arts competition following his success winning second place at a Skills Competition Wales regional event.

Brandon Sullivan, a second year professional cookery and food and beverage service student at the college’s Pibwrlwyd campus in Carmarthen, took part in a three-hour long regional competition held at Coleg y Cymoedd where he cooked up a lemon sole starter, pheasant main course and chocolate dessert. 

In the competition final, Brandon will be tasked with cooking a mackerel starter, duo of port (fillet and liver) and a trio of deserts.  Competitors will also be given a mystery box with a detailed recipe to follow.

Dawn Williams, who oversees hospitality students at the college’s training restaurant, Merlin’s, said: “Brandon has done really well to reach the Welsh final.

“He will be judged on a range of skills and that’s why these competitions are important as they value and encourage workplace professionalism.”


Students through to restaurant service Welsh final


Two students at Coleg Sir Gâr are gearing up to compete in a Wales final of a Skills Competition Wales event where they will be up against other colleges taking part in the restaurant service category.

Caryl Thomas, a level two professional cookery and food and beverage service student and Khadjah Kabir, a level three professional cookery student will, in the new year, be competing in Cardiff, working to a tight brief and judged by industry representatives.

The pair will be judged on their abilities to serve customers to the highest standards using their skills to tackle tasks such as preparation and service of various meals crafted in front of the customer, cocktail making and professional napkin and table layout.

Caryl and Khadjah are taking part in the final due to their success at a regional competition in November.

Dawn Williams, who oversees hospitality students at the college’s training restaurant, Merlin’s, said: “Skills Competitions Wales has extremely high standards, as often the competitions are linked with WorldSkills UK events so they’ve done well to come this far and we wish Caryl and Khadjah the best of luck at the final.”

Pics:  Khadjah Kabir and Caryl Thomas with their awards at the regional Skills Competition Wales event held at Bridgend College which has qualified them to compete in the final. 



Hairdressing competition success

Hairdressing students at Coleg Sir Gâr are accomplishing outstanding competition success.

Work-based learning apprentice, Phoebe McLavy, who works for Morgan Edward hairdressers in Carmarthen, has been selected to train and compete as part of WorldSkills Squad UK, which is a team of judiciously selected UK competitors aiming to compete for a place in the globe’s biggest biennial skills competition, WorldSkills, which takes place in Russia in 2019.   

Jasmine Harries won a bronze medal in this year’s WorldSkills UK Live national competition at the NEC in Birmingham. Working as a barber in her hometown, Jasmine applied to Coleg Sir Gâr to complete her level three qualification. She has been working with her tutor Adrienne Chick, gaining additional skills to help her competition journey.  Jasmine successfully gained third place at a Skills Competition Wales event in Cardiff and as a result, was named as one of the top eight competitors in the UK, which gained her a place at the Birmingham competition.

Shannon Jones-Rees began her hairdressing journey when she took part in a college link with Glan y Mor Comprehensive School and then applied to study full-time. 

In her first ever Skills Competition Wales competition, she won third place and will now progress to a Welsh final at the end of the year at Coleg y Cymoedd. 

Karrie Eynon, a level three hairdressing student has also been successful in gaining a place in the final due to her high score of above 70% at a regional competition.

Coleg Sir Gâr curriculum head, Claire MacKerras said: “The college is a regular participant of skills competitions both regionally, nationally and internationally.

“I’m delighted to see so many of our hairdressing students showcasing their talents and rising through the competition stages to as far as UK level, I wish them every success.”


UK gold and silver for Ammanford students

Entry level students at Coleg Sir Gâr’s Ammanford campus have brought home a gold and a silver medal from WorldSkills UK Live, the largest skills competition in the UK.

Shane Ellis from Ammanford won gold and Iestyn Vaughn from Cross Hands won silver in the inclusive skills category of the competition, which is held annually at Birmingham’s NEC.

The event is a culmination of UK talent from regional competition success from across the country. 

Entry level learners at Coleg Sir Gâr are no strangers to these competitions and regularly take part at local and national level.

Constructing a box with a detachable lid, the pair took on the task and applied skills they’ve been learning on their practical skills module which is an element of their Skills for Work course. 

Ian Law, assistant curriculum head of Built Environment at Coleg Sir Gâr said: “At Ammanford Campus, we are all extremely proud of them both and the experience they’ve gained is invaluable.

“It was an excellent weekend showcasing very talented learners and the carpentry lecturers worked really hard on developing Iestyn’s and Shane’s skills to bring out the best of their abilities.”

Pictured: Shane Ellis and Iestyn Vaughn who won medals at WorldSkills UK Live 2018. They are pictured with health and social care student Natasha Sheppard who studies at Graig campus, who won a gold for health and social care


UK gold for health and social care

A health and social care student at Coleg Sir Gâr has won a UK gold award for her skills in care practice. 

Natasha Sheppard, 19, from Trelerch in Carmarthen competed at WorldSkills UK Live, the largest skills competition in the UK, held annually at Birmingham’s NEC. 

The event is a culmination of UK talent from regional competition success from across the country, resulting in a UK competition final. 

In Wales, Welsh Government-backed Skills Competition Wales events are the driving force encouraging Welsh talent to the stage, supported by its Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales project.

Natasha qualified to take part due to her success in gaining silver at the regional inclusive skills competition in Dolgellau earlier this year. 

At the NEC, she competed in the health and social care category where she applied into practice, the principles of care, learnt on her college course. 

Faced with a one-to-one patient scenario which was judged at every step, Natasha carried out the task which included a detailed health check in a dignified, professional and respectful manner. 

Sue Hope-Bell, Coleg Sir Gâr health and social care lecturer said: “I am extremely proud of her, I couldn't have asked more of Natasha, she demonstrated everything we as a team in health and social care teach and expect from our learners all whilst under the pressure of competing.

“Natasha is an asset to the faculty and as a department we feel she has a bright future in health and social care.”


Rugby players put weight behind Rainbow Laces campaign

Rugby players at Coleg Sir Gâr have put their weight behind the Rainbow Laces campaign to highlight the need to tackle homophobia and promote greater inclusion in sport.

The Rainbow Laces campaign is the brainchild of Stonewall, the national LGBT charity, which has drawn the support of premiere league football teams and international rugby players. 

Steve Kelshaw, director of Learner Wellbeing and Support at Coleg Sir Gâr said: “We are really proud to see our rugby players and students take a lead in spreading the message that sport is for everyone and there is no place in our community for any form of discrimination or bullying.

“We have all been inspired by the way that Gareth Thomas (Alfie) responded to his recent homophobic attack and we are joining sports people from all over the world to send him and others our support and admiration.”


Pictured handing over the laces is Geraint Williams, college Student Union president, and college rugby captain Rhodri King.




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