The winner of a coveted national apprenticeship award has urged fellow entrepreneurs not to let age be a barrier to realising their business ownership ambition.
Rebecca Davies was 50 when she realised her dream of launching Willow Daycare nursery in Carmarthen at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. She now employs 22 staff and has seen the number of children attending the nursery rocket from seven at inception to 130 within a year.
Recognising Rebecca’s commitment to apprenticeships and staff development, Willow Daycare was named Small Employer of the Year at the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2022.
The awards showcased the outstanding achievements, during unprecedented times, of employers, apprentices and work-based learning practitioners.
Highlight of the year for apprentices, employers and work-based learning providers and practitioners, the awards are organised by the Welsh Government and supported by the National Training Federation for Wales and headline sponsor Openreach.
“This award shows that you can achieve your dream no matter how old you are,” said Rebecca. “I thought it was now or never when I saw an opportunity to open the nursery.
“I am really proud of myself and my team, and so grateful that I have been able to make a dream come true and run by own business. I want the nursery to inspire people to want to work in the sector which is struggling to recruit staff.
“Apprenticeships are extremely important to the sector because there are so many talented and gifted people out there that don’t want to be in a classroom but flourish in work-based learning.”
Rebecca opened Willow Daycare in the grounds of Glangwili General Hospital, recognising that there was a desperate shortage of childcare support, particularly for the NHS staff. Now she is keen to expand the nursery to cater for demand.
All staff are encouraged to embrace education and, where possible, incorporate the Welsh language into their workplace.
Willow Daycare offers Apprenticeships from Levels 2 to 5 in Children’s Care, Play, Learning and Development as well as Level 3 Playwork, delivered in co-ordination with TSW Training.
Economy Minister Vaughan Gething congratulated Willow Daycare and all the other award winners and finalists. “This Welsh Government has ambitious plans to make Wales an engine for sustainable, inclusive growth and give every young person the best possible start in the world of work,” he said.
“I believe apprenticeships are vital to this vision and that’s why we are investing £366 million over the next three years in the delivery of our apprenticeship programme. I am determined we do all we can as a government to help deliver the long-term economic benefits our young people deserve.
“We are a small country but we have big ambitions, and our aim is to foster a culture in Wales where recruiting an apprentice is the norm for employers.”