APPRENTICESHIPS have had a "truly transformational effect" on a soft drinks manufacturers on the Welsh border, bosses say.

Radnor Hills, based in Knighton, has enjoyed 20 per cent business growth in te last two years, including a record year in 2018, and bosses have put it down to apprentices.

Apprenticeships, initially introduced for a trial period, quickly became a permanent feature as the company saw the positive impact they were having on staff and business performance.

They are now at the core of the business as all new recruits are offered apprenticeship opportunities.

Manager Paul Whiffen, a Radnor Hills employee for 10 years who is responsible for a £4 million budget, doubled output within his department in the last year.

General Manager Dave Pope said: "Apprenticeships have had a truly transformational effect on both our employees and the business' growth.

"They allow all employees to get involved in business development and new ideas and makes them feel more included and engaged in our plans."

There are 53 apprentices across the business with a range of food, team leading and leadership and management qualifications delivered by Cambrian Training and engineering qualifications by Hereford and Ludlow College.

Chris Jones, Head of the Food Manufacturing Business Unit at Cambrian Training, said: "Never before have I seen such commitment to learning by a company so quickly after engaging with apprenticeships.

"The benefits to Radnor Hills and their employees is a delight to see."

Radnor Hills has been shortlisted for the Medium Employer of the Year Award at next month's Apprenticeship Awards Cymru.

More than 30 finalists in a dozen categories are in the running for the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru, which will be presented at a high-profile ceremony at the new International Convention Centre Wales, Newport, on October 24.

The awards showcase the successes of the best learners, employers, tutors and assessors in Wales who have excelled in contributing to the development of the Welsh Government's Traineeship and Apprenticeship programmes.

Jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru has Openreach, the UK's digital network business, as its premier sponsor this year.

The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.