Speakers call for collaboration to meet needs of apprentices and employers

Posted on by karen.smith

English | Cymraeg

NTFW Conference 2024 - keynote speakers.

Keynote speakers at the National Training Federation for Wales Conference held at ICC Wales, Newport.

Collaboration to meet the evolving needs of apprentices and employers was the cross cutting theme for keynote speakers at a conference focused on apprenticeships, skills and economic growth in Wales.

Against a background of apprenticeship funding cuts by the Welsh Government, the National Training Federation for Wales (NTFW) attracted around 150 delegates to the successful conference at the International Convention Centre Wales in Newport. Headline sponsor was City & Guilds.

Rhian Edwards, the Welsh Government’s deputy director of further education and apprenticeships, thanked work-based learning providers for working with the government during the “most painful budget choices for Wales in the devolution era”.

She praised the relationship that had developed with the sector and pledged to continue the “open communication” approach in the lead up to the new Commission for Tertiary Education and Research (CTER), which takes over post-16 education and training in Wales in August.

The Welsh Government will invest £143 million in “quality apprenticeships” in the next financial year. She said apprenticeships in strategically important sectors, including transport, health and housing, will be strengthened to build resilience to the changing economic environment.

Other objectives are plugging skills gaps and boosting productivity, engaging for businesses with apprenticeships and tackling inequality by improving employment and education opportunities for people from all backgrounds.

“I look forward to us continuing our strong partnership approach to make good things happen for the people of Wales,” she concluded.

NTFW strategic director Lisa Mytton thanked Rhian and her team, as well as NTFW commission contract holders and CollegesWales, for their collaboration during meetings to discuss the budget cut. She stressed that continued collaboration will be vital in the transition to CTER.

“The qualifications landscape in Wales is changing and vocational qualifications and apprenticeships should be held in high esteem,” she added. “We must continue the parity of esteem discussions and the need to have a concerted, consistent and loud message promoting vocational education as being central to career choice, employer development and economic growth, equally valued by all.

“We want to build on the significant progress made in apprenticeship provision to ensure that our work continues to make a real impact.”

Angharad Lloyd Beynon, City & Guilds policy, stakeholder and partnerships manager (Nations and Ireland), joined all the other keynote speakers in stressing importance of collaboration throughout the work-based learning process, from the Welsh Government to the learners and employers.

Praising training providers and colleges, she added: “Their unwavering dedication to supporting apprentices not only benefits individuals but also contributes to the economic prosperity and social well-being of our nation. Let us celebrate and champion their efforts as they continue to shape the future leaders and innovators of tomorrow.

“Apprenticeships are the backbone of our economy, providing individuals with practical, hands-on experience while simultaneously addressing the skills gap that plagues many industries.”

Both Agored Cymru chief executive officer Darren Howells and Philip Blaker, chief executive of Qualifications Wales, emphasised the need for all partners across Wales to work together to strengthen the qualifications system and support employers and learners.

Luke Fletcher, Plaid Cymru MS for South Wales West, chairman of the Senedd Cross Party Group on Apprenticeships, sent a video message to support the conference and said he looked forward to working with the NTFW and CollegesWales.

He stressed the importance of apprenticeships in helping Wales work towards Net Zero and a green economy.

Focusing on “building tomorrow’s success today”, conference delegates discussed how to unleash potential through apprenticeships, empowering futures, empowering employers and driving economic prosperity.

A series of workshops spanned from ‘Growing SMEs through skills development’ to ‘Navigating the opportunities and challenges of AI’,

Angharad Lloyd Beynon said: “City & Guilds is proud to be the headline sponsor for a conference which emphasises apprenticeships and skills as catalysts for economic growth. We believe in empowering individuals with the knowledge and expertise to drive prosperity, fostering a future where skills shape a thriving economy.”

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