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Nominated by: GCS Training, Gower College Swansea

City and County of Swansea local authority wanted to work with staff to change attitudes towards the waste sector, so it joined forces with GCS Training at Gower College Swansea last year, to deliver a traineeship that would provide waste management staff with a qualification.

Many people who join the industry start on zero hours contracts via agencies, but those successfully completing the new nine-month course delivered by the college will leave with a Waste and Management Industry Training Advisory Board (WAMITAB) diploma and the offer of a full-time, permanent job at the council.
Gareth Payne a tutor at Gower College runs the course, his job is to upskill the recruits in everything from health and safety, hazardous waste handling and creating a better work-life balance. He says, “It’s a physical, hard, smelly job with challenges every day - and it’s their job to keep everyone safe. We all want our bins collected and our waste dealt with, but many people don’t realise just how tough a job it is.”

Two hundred people applied when the Programme launched last spring, and all ten of the workers accepted on the first course passed and have since been employed full-time by the council. A new cohort of trainees are about to commence on the next course.
“Many of the trainees hadn’t been in a classroom for ages,” said Gareth. “If you’ve been out of school for a while and maybe you didn’t do particularly well, it’s easy to feel like learning isn’t for you and you’ve missed your shot. But that’s not the case.”

Matthew Jones completed his traineeship last December after spending three years working on a zero hours contract for an agency. The 37-year-old qualified with a WAMITAB Level 2 Diploma in Sustainable Resource Activities and is now employed full-time by the council. “It’s a brilliant scheme,” he said. “Having a qualification behind me makes me feel more respected - and the industry needs that - we’re on the front line every day.” Matthew will soon be enrolling onto the Level 3 qualification which will provide him with an A-Level equivalent and allow him to apply for management positions.

“Since we’ve gained the qualification, everyone is much happier,” he said. “I’m part of a team now and the working environment is better. Adult learning has given me so much more confidence in my work. We’ve covered absolutely everything, and I know everyone in every department by name. It’s made my job easier.”

Head of Waste Management at the Council, Chris Howell, said “The benefits of the trainee partnership are evident on the ground with fantastic work attitudes, flexibility in terms of working extra hours if needed, and involvement, as it leads in rolling out new recycling promotions and collection initiatives.”

“Since we’ve gained the qualification, everyone is much happier, I’m part of a team now. The working environment is better and having a qualification behind me makes me feel more respected. Adult learning has given me so much more confidence in my work. We’ve covered absolutely everything, and I know everyone in every department by name. It’s made my job easier.”