Francesca Emery, 18, from Warmley, who left sixth form after completing her AS Levels to start a traineeship in Bristol, working towards becoming an electrician, was awarded the South West Learning for Work award as part of the Festival of Learning run by the Learning and Work Institute.
The festival, which is celebrating its 25th year showcases the achievements that learning brings to individuals, families, communities and employers, including that of Francesca whose decision surprised her parents who always thought she would attend university.
During her placement, Francesca’s efforts impressed her employers, Jeff Way Electrical, so much that she was offered a position on their four-year electrical trailblazing apprenticeship, the first programme of its type in the UK – becoming the first female apprentice the company has employed.
Commenting on how she can’t believe how much has changed since completing the traineeship, Francesca said: “My parents noticed the change in me and it made things at home a lot better. I asked myself why I hadn’t done this sooner. I want to work hard and prove that you can do whatever you want when you put your mind to it and decide that you want change.”
Michelle Moylan, the DCET centre manager in Bristol, said: “I interviewed Francesca for our traineeship programme this time last year. She was quiet and reserved but I was won over by her determination.”
Stephen Evans, CEO of the Learning and Work Institute, said: “Francesca encompasses what the Festival of Learning is all about - people achieving their learning and career ambitions through their determination and hard work.