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Trainee of the Year Announced in RCT

A young female in a male dominated profession is showing true GIRL POWER as she ‘cleans up’ at Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Employment, Education and Training Celebration Event

Catherine Kesson was awarded ‘Trainee of the Year’ at the prestigious awards which aim to recognise and reward the amazing talent that is displayed as part of the Council’s award-winning apprentice, graduate and Step In The Right Direction programme.

The Employment, Education and Training team recruit new graduates, apprentices and care experienced young people to the Council every year and the majority of these become, full time, permanent employees following the completion of their programme.

Catherine, who is 21 and comes from Maerdy, is part of the Step In The Right Direction Programme – which is a flexible and supportive traineeship programme for care experienced young people aged 16-25 living in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Catherine started the programme in March 2023 and when she was looking for the perfect job match, she had some very specific requirements! Catherine wanted to be out and about, hands on, not in an office and meeting people every day – when she was asked if she would like a placement in waste management, she was excited to take up the opportunity and hasn’t looked back.

Catherine is now based with the Dinas Recycling and Waste crew and has shown true grit, strength, and a fantastic community spirit – she is a well-liked team player who gets stuck in every day. The average day sees Catherine walk around 40,000 steps – which is equivalent to around 16 miles, in her bid to collect the recycling from across the County Borough.

As part of the 2-year-traineeship, Catherine is working towards her NVQ level 2 in Waste Management. A general day for Catherine sees her start work at 7am, check the folder for the days paperwork and routes – which could be nappy collections or recycling, then join the rest of the crew and head out across the County Borough to get the job done.

Catherine said: “I was pleased to take up this role and its great fun - It’s helped me to combine my passion for the environment and my passion for fitness. The team are great, and every day is different. I know many women may not think this is a role for them, but I say give it a go and don’t dismiss it.  Its hard work, but I love it and fingers crossed I’ll be doing it for a long time into the future”.

“The role has helped me in so many ways, from increasing my confidence and helping me to improve my time keeping. The Step in the Right Direction programme has been a real-life changing opportunity for me and the support from the team and the Streetcare service has been fantastic. The boys in the depot have been great and welcomed me with open arms and always been there to help me learn the ropes. When I found out I was nominated and won the award, I couldn’t believe it as I already felt brilliant to have the opportunity to do the traineeship. I’d recommend the programme to anyone as it really does help you to take the right step in the right direction.”

The Employment, Education and Training Teams Celebration Event was held in December 2023.  The event recognised the achievements of our trainees, apprentices and graduates for their hard work and commitment to working for Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Councillor, Christina Leyshon, Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Corporate Services said:

“I was delighted to be part of this year’s celebration event and see the talented workforce of the future first hand. It was a pleasure to see Catherine crowned Trainee of the year and it is very much well deserved. I hope to see her working in the service for many years to come. The programme that we offer in Rhondda Cynon Taf is fantastic with around 70% of those recruited under the graduate scheme receiving permanent jobs within the Council. I would like to say a huge well done and congratulations to all those that were recognised as part of the event.”

More information of the Council’s Employment, Education and Training opportunities can be found online at

Posted on 08/02/2024