NTfW pledges to help shape new post 16 learning authority
The National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) has pledged to be fully engaged in the consultation process following Tuesday’s Welsh Government’s announcement about the creation of a new strategic authority to oversee skills, funding for research and the higher and further education sectors in Wales
The announcement was made by Education Secretary Kirsty Williams who said the Welsh Government accepted the recommendations of an independent review carried out by Professor Ellen Hazelkorn last year. Full consultation will follow this spring.
The new authority will encompass further and higher education, work-based learning and adult community learning. It will be responsible for planning, funding, contracting, ensuring quality, financial monitoring and be the lead funder of research.
The current functions of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales would be transferred to the new authority, which would operate at arm’s length from the Welsh Government.
Published in March 2016, the Hazelkorn report suggested:
- Establishing a single regulatory, oversight and co-ordinating authority for the post-compulsory education sector.
- The new body will be responsible for funding provision at all levels, ensuring quality and be the lead funder of research.
- Placing the needs of learners at the heart of the education system by establishing clear and flexible learning and career pathways.
- There should be equal value and support for vocational and academic pathways and connections between qualifications and the labour market need to be improved.
The NTfW represents more than 100 organisations involved in the delivery of learning in the workplace in Wales. Its chair, Sarah John, said: “We welcome the consultation and look forward to engaging with employers, learners and the work-based learning providers network to provide a comprehensive response to help and inform the Welsh Government about the structure of this new authority.
“As a network we have always put learners at the centre of provision and provided one-to-one support in the workplace. It remains our goal to achieve parity of esteem and opportunity for learners following vocational and academic pathways
“The NTfW network prides itself on providing post 16 education and training that meets the needs of the Welsh economy. We have supported the Regional Skills Partnerships to help the economy improve and we want to see that continue through this new authority. We are already working towards learning pathways, particularly in priority sectors.
“We look forward to being involved in the creation and shaping of this new body to ensure that the good work and achievements of the work-based learning sector are not diminished. It’s essential that we maintain the high levels of apprenticeship attainment and progression.”
The Education Secretary said: “The boundaries between higher education and further education are now breaking down. Working lives are now longer and change rapidly. We need a system that makes it easier for people to learn and obtain the skills they need throughout their careers. This is happening against a backdrop of rapid change in other parts of the UK and Brexit.
“The various sectors and providers in Wales are regulated and funded in different ways by different bodies, resulting in competition, gaps and confusion for learners.
“Professor Hazelkorn concluded that the current system does not focus sufficiently on learners and does not fully achieve value for money. Her report emphasised the need for post-compulsory education and training to operate as a single sector.
“I have given these proposals careful consideration and the model she puts forward builds on what is tried and tested in successful education systems. I want Wales to enjoy those same advantages.
“This is an opportunity to shape a system where institutions of all types are encouraged to work together to meet learners’ needs, allowing them to progress and building strong links with business and providing the skills our economy needs.”