Establishing a World Class System for Apprenticeships in Wales

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Training providers from across Wales gather at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport today for the National Training Federation for Wales’ annual conference. Chairman Peter Rees talks about the challenges and opportunities facing work-based learning in Wales.

By Peter Rees, NTfW chairman.

Peter Rees, NTfW Chair

Peter Rees, NTfW Chair

Having worked in a variety of training, further and higher education roles for almost 40 years, I cannot recall a period when work-based learning, particularly apprenticeship training, has had such a high profile and recognition as a key element of the education ‘spectrum’ with policymakers, employers and indeed parents and young people!

I am delighted that the NTfW has recently made a significant contribution to this debate with our report, ‘The Value of Apprenticeships to Wales’. The study has been well received by all our stakeholders and has informed our dialogue with the political parties as they prepare their manifestos for next year’s National Assembly for Wales’ election.

We are asking that any future government should not only increase opportunities for apprenticeship training but should also focus on improving the supply chain prior to and throughout the apprentice’s learning journey.

At the report’s launch, I was delighted to hear Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James give the Welsh Government’s “absolute commitment” to prioritising apprenticeships. The government will have a key role to play in contributing to our ‘Vision 20:20 – Towards a World Class Skills System’, which is the theme of the NTfW’s annual conference today.

The conference is our starting point for getting the supply chain fit for purpose. As training providers and partners we must aspire towards achieving the same profile for apprenticeships as is enjoyed in other successful European countries to ensure that we have a high skill and productivity base here in Wales.

We have an opportunity to not only learn from what is being achieved in other countries, but also to put it into a Welsh context, recognising that we must ensure there are opportunities for all young people to progress from school into employment and to a higher skill level.

Our keynote speakers and workshops will help to indicate the direction that, as a sector, we need to pursue as we strive to build a world class skills system. I look forward to hearing how our provision should reflect the needs of employers and our culture in Wales. In this cultural context, we are today launching our good practice guide to the provision of bilingual Welsh medium vocational qualifications in work based learning, co-funded by NTfW and Welsh Government.

We must continue to focus on meeting the needs of learners, be inclusive in our approach, constantly improve quality, be innovative in responding to opportunities created by employers and government, be prepared to learn from others and work at all levels to benefit all apprentices.

As training providers we face major challenges and opportunities, not least through co-investment and how the UK Government’s apprenticeship levy impacts in Wales. We must now ensure that we are well placed to respond these challenges.

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