TSW Training is a professional training and apprenticeships provider based in the heart of South Wales, with customers and learners based across the UK.
Our business is 56 years old and we have 55 team members supporting our businesses and learners, specialising in health and safety, leadership and management, health and social care, childcare, quality management, business administration, and education and training.
TSW started in the heart of the Welsh valleys on 23rd December 1966.
The Rhondda Group Training Association, its founding name, was a charitable trust with a board of trustees. It was made up of 12 manufacturing members and represented manufacturing and engineering organisations in South Wales.
How did a training associate work? The board of trustees recruited one training officer who toured around the member business in south Wales. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, it was their responsibility to monitor the quality of the group’s engineering training programmes. They collected evidence proving that the engineering industry had made a commitment to ongoing training.
When the levy was lifted, the Rhondda Group Training Association decided to continue delivering training to its members, extending its portfolio beyond engineering, into health and safety, forklift truck driving, and management courses.
Expansion plans and a new headquarters
Christmas was turning out to be a transformational time for TSW. By 31st December 1978, the group was thriving. At this time, it has swelled to 15 members, merging with associations in Swansea and Aberdare. To represent its new members, its name changed to Glamorgan Counties Group Training Association.
The Glamorgan Counties Group operated from multiple offices around Bridgend, but by 1987, it needed a permanent base and headquarters.
The team discovered Fairwood House, a character farm house property with a rich history. Before it became a training and learning venue, Fairwood House was also an NHS property, home to an anti-natal clinic and outpatient hub for mental health patients. The team snapped it up, extended the building and it’s still TSW’s HQ today.
A venue with learning woven into its history
According to the 1891 Census, Fairwood House, then Glan Rhyd House, was home to the Edwards and Llewellyn families. It resided scholar, John W Edwards, his wife Ann, and their five children, William, Kitty, Mary, Emily and Gwendoline, plus his Welsh-speaking in-laws, Susan and Thomas Llewellyn.
More than 100 years and an expansion later, Fairwood House is modern training venue, bustling once again with billingual learners.
Apprenticeships and commercial training
By 1990, the Glamorgan Counties Group had 11 members of staff and 100 members. The business was split in half. On the one side was a membership business, where members paid an annual fee for a bespoke training programme. On the other side, it was an apprenticeship provider.
The chief executive, Charles Middleton, decided it was time for a new name. The company became the Glamorgan Counties Training Trust on 16 February 1990, and just a few months later on 2 October, it changed again to Training Trust (Wales).
Throughout the 1990s, the business continued to grow, recruiting around 100 engineering apprentices each year.
The playing field changed with the arrival of ‘modern apprenticeships’, offering NVQs in a diversity of fields and specialisms. The Glamorgan Counties Training Trust’s offer broadened to match the public need and appetite for professional development.
In manufacturing, we delivered business administration, customer services, supervisory management qualifications, management NVQs, supervisory apprenticeships, and advice and guidance. By the late 1990s, our business was focused on engineering, management, customer service, and advice and guidance.
Fast forward to 2006 and the Training Trust had 22 members of staff, and it was about to go through some big changes.
From charitable trust to employee-owned
The traditional membership service, which had supported its growth for so many years, was no longer needed. Clients came to TSW as a commercial organisation, recognised for delivering exceptional training courses and apprenticeships.
Meanwhile, the Welsh Government introduced a new requirement for training providers to tender as apprenticeship providers. It was a new process, and never one to shy away from a challenge, the team tendered and won a four-year contract.
After the win, Charles Middleton retired, and the board of trustees decided that they would sell the Training Trust, liquidate the assets and give the money away to charitable causes.
TSW would become a commercial business for the first time in its history. But who would buy the business?
On the 29th August 2007, TSW was bought by three of its employees, Stuart Davies, John Nash and Carinne Williams.
The trust retained ownership of Fairwood House, so the new board of directors rented its loved home, with ambitions to buy the building when the time was right.
The £450,000 profits from the sale went to educational causes. Wales Online covered the story and wrote: “The Fairwood Trust Legacy Grant Scheme is available for South East Wales organisations looking for capital or equipment that will have an impact on either education for disadvantaged young people, entrepreneurship, social enterprise, employment and training, or community benefits.”
It was a huge parting gift from the charity to a community that had supported its growth for decades.
After a few years, the new board of directors were able to buy Fairwood House from the trust too.
TSW Training today
But for TSW, the wheels are always turning, and a new tender was coming up with Welsh Government. The contract would not be awarded to small businesses, so TSW had to expand again, and quickly.
The new directors bought another training business in Cardiff, which focused on teaching assistants, and health and social care, broadening the skillset and abilities once again.
TSW formed a consortium with three other training providers in south Wales to win the tender, becoming Vocational Skills Partnership (VSP). VSP won the £6m tender in 2010. Over the years, we have continued to retender successfully, twice as VSP.
In 2021, TSW is 55 years old with 55 team members. It continues to thrive as a training and apprenticeships provider in South Wales, helping to strengthen and develop the working community with professional development training that builds careers and businesses.