Cardiff salon’s artistic director named VQ Learner of the Year runner up

Updated 15/06/2015

The artistic director at Ocean Hairdressing in Cardiff was runner up at the VQ (Vocational Qualifications) Awards in Wales last week.

Casey Coleman, a former Gower College Swansea student, was one of six finalists in the running to become VQ Learner of the Year at the showpiece awards ceremony at St David’s Hotel, Cardiff. The award recognises learners who clearly demonstrate progression and excellence in vocational studies and have made considerable achievements in their field.

Organised by the Welsh Government’s Department for Education and Skills (DfES), the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) and CollegesWales, the VQ Awards help to showcase individuals and organisations that have raised the standard of the services they offer as a result of vocational qualifications.

The awards, which are part funded by the European Social Fund, are now in their eighth year and coincide with VQ Day – a UK-wide celebration of vocational qualifications for students, teachers, training providers and employers – which is held today (June 10).

Hairdressing is more than just a nine to five job to Casey. He says the industry is much more about creativity with the opportunity for careers not only in salons, but within fashion styling and design, television and films.

After working briefly in a salon, he went on to work in a call centre before returning to full-time education at Gower College Swansea where his passion for hairdressing began. Since then he has continued in his career, becoming a top stylist in his field and travelling the world working with leading brands, as well as at London Fashion Week and being featured in Vogue.

But core to his success has been continued development with vocational qualifications. He studied and passed NVQ Level 2 and Level 3 hairdressing, NVQ Level 2 in Barbering and NVQ Level 1 in Customer Services through training provider Gower College, Swansea.

“No matter where you are in your career, continued education and the ability to develop your skills is vitally important,” said Casey. “You need to keep taking courses and gaining qualifications to ensure you stay ahead of the game.

“Going back to college and studying while at work makes you look at everything you do and helps you to progress. Even at a director level within the salon, you need to ensure you continue training and throughout the business we promote continued progression through the use of qualifications and training.”

Bernie Wilkes, learning area manager at Gower College, said: “Casey is a true inspiration to current and future hairdressing students.”

The VQ Learner of the Year is former Coleg Sir Gar student Simon McCall, 21, from Capel Dewi, Carmarthen, a self-employed carpenter and member of the WorldSkills Squad UK.

The other runners up were: James Pepper, 39, technical services director at Vista Retail Support Ltd, Pentwyn, Cardiff; Paul Wiggins, 35, from Cardiff, a chartered insurance broker at BPW Insurance Services, Newport, whose training provider is Acorn Learning Solutions; former Bridgend College learners Michael Whippey, 23, chief instructor at Shardeloes Farm Equestrian Centre, Amersham and Serena Torrance, 23, of Maesteg who is taking a criminology degree at Cardiff University.

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James congratulated the inspirational finalists and also praised all the learners and the employers who had entered the VQ Awards this year.

“In Wales we have a long tradition of developing skills through vocational routes,” she said. “We remain committed to helping young people and employers develop the skills necessary to contribute to the growing Welsh economy.

“VQ Day reminds us just how many Welsh employers and learners are already going that extra mile when it comes to developing their skills. Each of those nominated for this year’s awards have demonstrated what can be achieved through hard work and dedication.

“Vocational qualifications are the gold standard in professional excellence and we must ensure they are recognised alongside academic achievements.”

Picture caption:
Casey Coleman receives his VQ Learner of the Year finalist certificate from Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James and compere Owain Wyn Evans.

PR: Courtesy of Duncan Foulkes