A hard-working student from Ystrad Mynach Collage is in the running to become Apprentice of the Year in a Wales-wide award scheme.
Rhys West, 20, from Penpedairheol, is a finalist in the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru.
The awards, organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation Wales, are split into eight categories.
Rhys has been invited to an awards ceremony at the Mercure Cardiff Holland House on November 16 where he will find out if he has won the top prize in the Apprentice of the Year category.
After gaining a handful of low-grade GCSEs at Lewis School in Pengam in 2007, Rhys decided to give plumbing a go and began a four-year apprenticeship with Brecongate Projects Ltd in Treforest.
While gaining hands-on experience four days a week with the firm, Rhys was also in the classroom once a week.
For the last two years, he has been studying at Ystrad and has successfully completed an NVQ Level 3 in mechanical engineering (plumbing).
Rhys has also added to his skills with gas and electrical qualifications by going to evening classes.
He said the apprenticeship not only helped him to learn a host of practical skills but also boosted his confidence.
He said: “The apprenticeship has given me the inspiration and confidence to continue to gain new skills to further develop my career. My self confidence has been boosted having to deal with so many varied situations over the past four years. I also learned a lot about myself and my capabilities.”
When he first started at Brecongate, he was doing small tasks under supervision but very quickly found himself being given a lot more responsibility and, by the end of the second year, was regularly working on his own.
Rhys, who enjoys going to the gym in his spare time, added: “Training with the college and the support of the tutors and the engineers at Brecongate has been absolutely priceless.”
As well as setting him on the road to success, Rhys’ hard work has had other benefits.
He has inspired his father Paul to re-train as a mechanical engineer at Ystrad Mynach College after 30 years as a full time welder/fabricator.
Paul has also been taken on by Brecongate and father and son often work as a team together.
College Principal Bryn Davies said: “Rhys is a shining example of what hard work and determination can achieve. He has worked extremely hard during his apprenticeship and we wish him all the best for the awards and in his future career.”