New appointments strengthen work-based learning provider network in Wales

Posted on by karen.smith

The NTfW’s new interim chairperson Sarah John (centre) with Kelly Edwards (left) with Humie Webbe.

The NTfW’s new interim chairperson Sarah John (centre) with Kelly Edwards (left) with Humie Webbe.

The National Training Federation for Wales, which represents work-based learning providers across the nation, has made three new appointments.

Sarah John, commercial director at Newport-based Acorn, takes over as interim chairperson from Peter Rees, a former assistant principal of Coleg Sir Gâr in West Wales, following his retirement. She will remain in the post at least until the NTfW’s annual meeting in September.

Sarah has been involved in work-based learning for 22 years and has been an NTfW board member for two years as South East Wales regional chair.

Strengthening the NTfW team are Kelly Edwards, who joins the Cardiff-based organisation as head of work-based learning quality and Humie Webbe who has been appointed equality and diversity champion. Both women are vastly experienced in their areas of expertise and their appointments are jointly funded for two years by the Welsh Government and the European Social Fund.

Sarah John

Sarah John

Sarah takes over the chair at a time when work-based learning providers across Wales are eagerly awaiting news of how the new apprenticeship levy, which is being introduced by the Westminster Government in April next year, will impact the delivery of training.

“My role will be to drive forward the NTfW agenda and to keep the network updated on Welsh Government policy on the apprenticeship levy and the changes taking place in England, where they are introducing Trailblazer apprenticeships,” she said.

“We need to know how the levy will impact Wales and keep employers informed. However, the work-based learning contract providers are in place in Wales, programmes have been commissioned and the Welsh Government has made it clear that they are not changing the apprenticeship frameworks as they have done in England.”

Focused on “getting the job done” during her interim appointment, she said there were a number of key decisions to be made before September that would influence the NTfW’s future direction.

“I think there are great opportunities for apprenticeships in Wales as the network focuses on the new Welsh Government’s key objectives, one of which is to increase employer engagement and the recruitment of young people onto apprenticeships,” she added. “It’s important that we understand what the Welsh economy needs and respond to that as a network.

“Many major new development projects are coming to Wales, including the new prison in Wrexham and the Metro as part of the City Deal in Cardiff. We need to be agile as a network to respond to the emerging needs of employers, utilising the apprenticeship budget. Collaboration will be really important.

“Regional Skills Partnerships are currently working on demand and supply assessments, which will inform the NTfW and its network about the future needs of the Welsh economy and aid the network in planning or changing provision as a result.”

Kelly Edwards

Kelly Edwards

Kelly, from Church Village, previously worked for the WEA YMCA CC Cymru for a year as senior research and policy officer.

Before that, she worked for the University of South Wales for 10 years as a senior lecturer in work-based learning, learning development officer and graduate careers adviser. She also spent two years with Careers Wales as an adviser working with young people not in education, employment or training.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to raise the profile of vocational education,” Kelly commented about new post. “My main challenge is to promote parity of esteem for vocational and academic routes.

“What I like about the post is that it combines research, policy and strategic planning with the delivery of qualifications. Wales has the best apprenticeship success rates in the UK and my role is to further improve standards to increase skills levels and support the needs of businesses across Wales.”

Following meetings with key commission contract holders, she will put together a plan of action to support the provider network.

Humie Webbe

Humie Webbe

Humie, who lives in Cardiff, has vast experience of working with people from diverse backgrounds and under-represented groups. In the year 2000 she was included in the Western Mail Power list as one of the 1,000 most influential people in Wales.

The daughter of parents who moved to Wales from Saint Kitts in the Caribbean in the 1950s, she joins the NTfW from Mind Cymru where she was national diversity co-ordinator for the Time to Change Wales mental health anti-stigma campaign.

Prior to that, she worked for Cardiff Council and Welsh Government as operational manager of Cardiff Communities Frist Programme where she established partnerships in the most deprived areas of the city.

She was also the autism strand leader for All Youth Matters, a youth charity in the Vale of Glamorgan, development manager for ProMo-Cymru, which supports youth enterprise and chairperson of the Black Voluntary Sector Network Wales.

She has a passion for music and the arts, having been a national advisor for the Arts Council for Wales and a member of the Creative and Cultural Skills Advisory Group.

“My new role with the NTfW will be to identify examples of equality and diversity good practice among training providers and to share them across the network,” said Humie. “I have had a positive reception from providers who are keen to expand their apprenticeship offer.

“I aim to celebrate the opportunities that apprenticeships present to people from diverse backgrounds, particularly those from disabled groups. I am utilising the networks that I have built over the years and using my experience, knowledge and engagement skills to make the apprenticeship offer more attractive to everyone.

“I will also be working with schools and parents because they play a crucial role in the career choices that young people make.”

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