A YOUNG woman who has achieved so much in such a short time during her career working with adults with additional needs was a runner up in this year’s Vocational Qualification (VQ) Awards.

Lorna Wilcox-Jones, 22, independent living adviser for Cartrefi Cymru in Denbighshire, was one of three finalists in the VQ Learner of the Year Higher Level Award category, which recognises individuals who clearly demonstrate progression and excellence in vocational studies and have made considerable achievements in their field thanks to vocational qualifications.

The awards are organised by the Welsh Government, the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) and ColegauCymru / CollegesWales.

Passionate about her vocation, Lorna, of Ruthin, studied full-time from the age of 16 at Grwp Llandrillo Menai’s Denbigh Campus, completing a BTEC (NQF) Level 2 and 3 Health and Social Care qualification. It wasn’t straight forward for her, as she was also a carer for her mother and managed to successfully divide time between home and education.

At 17, Lorna began working in health and social care and a year later she was employed by Cartrefi Cymru, an independent living service provider. But rather than just focus on the job in hand, she wanted to achieve much more academically to support her career.

Alongside her work, Lorna began studying through learning provider Grwp Llandrillo Menai and completed a BA (Hons) in health and social care. 

Within 18 months of joining her employer and beginning her studying, Lorna was promoted to deputy manager and her learning isn’t finished.

“I love my job, the people I support and those I work with,” she said. “No day is ever the same and there is always something new to learn. By continuing my learning while working has ensured that I’m up-to-date on best practice and processes within the sector and, more importantly, able to bring much more into the role and the wider business.

“I want to progress in my career and learning will be a big part of that, whether on the job or through studies. It’s important to keep learning and adapting and vocational qualifications are one way of achieving that.”

Jane Gibson, Cartrefi Cymru’s area manager, said: “She has a passion for learning, always striving to improve her knowledge base.”

Minister of Skills and Science Julie James congratulated the 10 finalists and praised everyone who had been nominated for the VQ Awards this year. “Vocational skills have a huge impact on the Welsh economy and we value the gold standard of vocational learning being delivered to people right across Wales,” she said.

“Both VQ Day and the VQ Awards provide the perfect opportunity for us to celebrate not only the high standard of technical, practical and vocational learning being delivered in Wales, but also the many personal successes and achievements of our learners.

“High quality VQs are essential to provide individuals and businesses with the skills, experience, motivation and inspiration they need to get ahead. Ultimately it is only with appropriately skilled and trained people that we can drive forward the Welsh economy.”