Deputy Minister calls for a partnership approach to apprenticeships in Wales

The Welsh Government is calling for a positive partnership with employers, training providers and young people to deliver apprenticeships in Wales.

The call came from Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Julie James at a business breakfast event held at The Vale Hotel and Spa, Hensol, attended by 200 employers and training providers to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week.

Delegates heard that, due to the current economic conditions, the Welsh Government was urging employers to share responsibility by co-investing in apprenticeships.

Themed ‘It’s Time to Talk Apprenticeships’, the event was organised by the Welsh Government in partnership with the National Training Federation Wales (NTfW) and Pearson Work Based Learning to raise awareness of the positive impact that apprenticeships make to individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

“It’s essential to develop a partnership to ensure that apprenticeships in Wales continue to meet the needs of both employers and their future employees,” said the Deputy Minister.

“Apprenticeships benefit businesses, young people and the Welsh economy. They are also a great driver for social mobility and one of the most practical and cost effective ways to build a skilled workforce and address skills shortages.

“The average apprentice increases business productivity by £214 per week and even more in some sectors.”

She appealed to delegates to respond to a Welsh Government consultation, which aims to develop and shape the future apprenticeship programme in Wales. Themed ‘Aligning the apprenticeship model to the needs of the Welsh economy’, the consultation closes on April 24.

“In recent years, apprenticeships have become a key part of our education and skills system,” she added. “There has been an increase in the number of people starting apprenticeships from just under 18,000 in 2011-’12 to 28,000 in 2012-’13 and 27,500 in 2013-’14.”

In January, the Welsh Government announced a £2.4 million Flexible Skills programme, which was supporting an estimated 60 companies in Wales and an additional £500,000 had been made available to support apprenticeships in the care sector.

Other speakers at the event, hosted by BBC presenter Jamie Owen, included NTfW regional vice chair Paul Napier and Institute of Directors’ regional director Robert Lloyd Griffiths, who both supported the call for a partnership on apprenticeships to build the Welsh economy.

The benefits of apprenticeships were extolled by director Carmela Carrubba and apprentice Dewi Foulkes from Real SFX, Cardiff, winner of the Small Employer of the Year award in last year’s Apprenticeship Awards Cymru and Anthony Rees from Cyfle Building Skills, Owain Phillips of Morganstone and Gareth Evans from Pembrokeshire College.

The event was also used as a launchpad for this year’s Apprenticeship Awards Cymru, which are designed to recognise and reward best practice in the use of apprenticeships for learners, employers and providers. The awards ceremony will be on October 29 at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport.

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