USW and Cardiff Council celebrate 10 years of student placement scheme

Ardal Student Placement

Luke Howells, Penny Haywood and Scott Parfitt

A student placement partnership between the University of South Wales (USW) and Cardiff Council is celebrating its 10th anniversary, with two graduates securing senior roles at the newly formed Ardal procurement service.

Penny Haywood, who was the first student to take part in the scheme, is now Category Manager for the South East Wales regional collaborative framework, SEWSCAP (buildings construction framework), where she handles procurement.

Her colleague and fellow graduate Luke Howells is Category Manager for another of Ardal’s regional frameworks, SEWH (highways framework), handling the procurement of civil engineering projects across South Wales.

The student placement scheme was developed by Scott Parfitt, Senior Lecturer in Procurement and Supply Chain Management at USW, and Steve Robinson, Head of Procurement at Cardiff Council. Students who study BSc Logistics Procurement and Supply Chain Management get the opportunity to test themselves in the world of procurement with Ardal, a collaborative procurement partnership between Cardiff Council, Monmouthshire County Council, Torfaen County Borough Council, and the Vale of Glamorgan Council, which also delivers SEWSCAP, SEWH and SEWTAPS (technical and professional services framework).

Ardal’s focus is to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving procurement landscape and to provide solutions in line with Welsh Government legislation, including the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and the Social Partnership and Public Procurement (Wales) Act 2023.

Commenting on the success of the student placement scheme, Scott said: “Steve and I share the same belief that procurement is a highly challenging, but rewarding career to embark upon. It is a crucial component in ensuring Local Authorities work successfully with the private sector to deliver important projects across the region. However, many students are unsure how a career in procurement can be developed. We set out to change that!

“To see students like Penny and Luke securing senior positions and becoming important staff members in Ardal should spur on other students to try procurement and forge a career path. Procurement is well paid, diverse in its activities, and constantly evolving, something that students can enjoy and thrive within. I am delighted our partnership with Ardal is proving a success and I encourage all students to consider procurement as a viable, successful career.”

Penny and Luke are now playing a crucial role in Ardal’s vision for procurement to help tackle inequality, protect our environment, and adapt to a world being reshaped by climate change. They are integral to delivering work designed to build better communities through socially responsible procurement, and help manage partnerships with charities and community partners that delivers tangible, positive change.

Steve Robinson, Head of Ardal, added: “In addition to Penny and Luke now holding senior roles, the programme which started in 2013 has seen 18 students either progress within our team or move on to senior roles with public and private sector organisations. Public sector procurement in Wales is facing a major challenge in recruiting and retaining procurement staff and this programme has been crucial in supporting the growth of our team.

“The success of the student placement program is evident, providing individuals with new skills and opportunities to thrive in a dynamic and diverse work environment. I cannot thank Scott and the University of South Wales enough for its contribution and enthusiasm to drive a career in procurement forward.

“Any students and graduates joining us in the future will play a key part in helping reduce carbon emissions to Net Zero by 2030, and ensure procurement spend is more accessible to small, local businesses and the third sector. I would encourage people to see the opportunities before them and embrace the opportunity.”

A key focus for Ardal is to also improve Fair Work, Equity and Safeguarding practices adopted by suppliers and increase community benefits delivered by suppliers, that will be tracked and measured to ensure genuine social impact.

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