Teenager James Carter is getting his life back on track after hitting rock bottom when he found himself homeless for seven weeks, was involved in substance misuse and spent a day in jail.

The turning point for James, 18, from Newport, came when Careers Wales introduced him to the Traineeship Engagement programme at Itec Skills and Employment. He began addressing the barriers and enormous challenges he had already faced since being put up for adoption at a young age.

He is now working towards a NVQ Level One in Customer Service and a Traineeship Level One in Health and Social Care. As part of his qualification, he is an Itec youth mentor and has become a charity ambassador.

Now his learning journey has been recognised as he has been shortlisted for this year’s Apprenticeship Awards Cymru. He will be competing to become Traineeship Learning of the Year (Engagement) at the prestigious awards ceremony at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport on November 9.

The annual awards are designed to showcase and celebrate the outstanding achievements of learners, employers, tutors and assessors who have excelled in contributing to the development of the Welsh Government’s Traineeships and Apprenticeship Programmes.

The awards are jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales. The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

Thirty star employers, learners and learning providers from across Wales have been shortlisted for the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru.

Last Christmas, James and other Traineeship Engagement learners collected sleeping bags, clothing, toiletries and food and helped cook hot meals for those less fortunate at the Eden Gate Homeless Shelter, Newport.

James said: “I’ve had a really difficult upbringing and, even though I’ve had some really low points, I’ve always wanted to get my life on track.

“I now have a focus in life and have started to realise my self-worth. I’m determined to succeed with a life I can say is mine.

“If my story can help any other young people get through bad times, to me it is already a winning entry.”