Digital Exclusion and Mental Health Funding support for Apprenticeships, Traineeships and WBL staff
Since the introduction of social distancing and lockdown within the UK in March 2020, work based learning providers rapidly shifted to remote learning delivery with full remote learning becoming a necessity, as the nation faced further local and national lockdowns. However, it became clear that many learners did not have access to the devices, connectivity and software to continue to learn remotely.
Welsh Government have committed £1.6 million in funding to support work based learners on both traineeships and apprenticeship programmes across Wales, helping providers to support their learners to engage with digital and distance learning. The funding has enabled providers to address some of the common barriers to engagement with learning for those identified as ‘digitally excluded’ or having additional accessibility requirements.
The impact of this support will result in heightened engagement and positive progression for these learners, many of whom were being disadvantaged due to limited or no access to digital equipment, connectivity and the necessary software.
In addition, Welsh government have also provided the work based learning sector with over £500k of additional funding to support leaner and staff mental health and wellbeing, this recognises the impact of Covid 19 and the pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of both learners and practitioners. It goes a long way to support providers to maintain some of the innovative approaches that providers have been implementing to ensure the mental health and wellbeing of both learners and the work based learning workforce has remained a priority during this pandemic.
The funding has been used to support activities such as counselling for both staff and learners, CPD activities for practitioners, mindfulness, staffing costs and in some cases, it has meant that providers have been able to expand their professional offer to include mental health related activities for learners.
The role of the NTfW has been in the co-ordination of both initiatives providing a pivotal role in delivering guidance to providers on the on the application and procurement process and working directly with Welsh Government on behalf of the provider network to ensure the smooth transition of funding. The NTfW is also providing the Welsh government with the final evaluation of the use and impact of the funding.