Training Providers Challenged To Shape Wales’ Future Workforce

Posted on by karen.smith

The National Training Federation for Wales, a network of 116 quality assured workplace learning providers, is being challenged to set out a clear vision on how it aims to deliver the skills required by the Welsh economy now and in the future.

Chief executive Arwyn Watkins will throw down the gauntlet at the NTfW’s annual conference, ‘Shaping the Future Workforce’, at Venue Cymru, Llandudno tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday this week.

Arwyn Watkins - NTFW Chief Executive

Arwyn Watkins, chief executive of the National Training Federation for Wales.

The NTfW, which is celebrating its 10th birthday this year, has links to 35,000 employers across Wales. Members range from small specialist training providers to national and international companies, as well as local authorities, Further Education institutions and third sector organisations.

The network delivers Apprenticeship programmes in Wales, 3,000 of the 4,000 Jobs Growth Wales places in the private sector, Traineeship programmes to get 16-19 year olds back on the road to employment or into further or higher education as well as targeted support for individuals on the Steps to Employment programme.

“In the past decade, we have established a firm foundation on which to build our future vision and aims,” said Mr Watkins, a former NTfW chairman. “With so much change on the horizon in education and training, it is critically important that we set out a very clear vision for the federation and publish our aims to secure relevant and appropriate skills that are required by the Welsh economy now and in the future.”

He wants the NTfW board to consult with members and stakeholders before publishing its aims to secure a robust education and training system for Wales. He suggests adopting the aims of The Edge Foundation to raise the profile of vocational education.

He sets out six aims and wants politicians, practitioners and the public to:

  • Recognise that there are many paths to success
  • Ensure that “learning by doing” is valued equally with academic learning
  • Provide technical, practical and vocational learning as an integral and valued part of every person’s education and as a recognised route to success
  • From the age of 14, give young people a choice of learning experiences and pathways based on their motivation, talents and career aspirations
  • Ensure that technical, practical and vocational education and qualifications offered in schools, FE and HE are high quality and recognised by employers
  • Ensure all young people, whatever their different abilities and interests, leave the system with the confidence, ambition and skills to succeed and the skills that the Welsh economy needs.

“You might well ask on what basis do I recommend these aims?” added Mr Watkins, who is also managing director of award winning Cambrian Training Company in Welshpool. “I have 12 years of direct experience of having to divert scarce resources to deal with Basic Skills needs in Apprenticeship programmes that are designed to deliver craft and technical skills based on knowledge and competence.

“We have to strike the correct balance where functional literacy and numeracy are the foundation for progression into all pathways to success.

“There is an abundance of evidence about future skills needs, what works well and, most importantly, what action must be taken to make things better. Now is the time to secure an education and training system for Wales that delivers with confidence and ambition the skills the economy needs to succeed.”

The conference theme aims to explore ways of raising the standards of skills and upskilling businesses by working in collaboration.

Keynote speakers include Scott Waddington, Wales Commissioner to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, who will speak about shared investment in skills and Deputy Minister for Skills Jeff Cuthbert. Barry Liles, Skills Champion for Wales, will speak about the value of world class competitions, Huw Evans, chair of Project Board for the Review of Qualifications 14-19 in Wales, who will give a review progress report and Lord Ted Rowlands, NTfW’s president, will give a conference overview.

To book a place at the conference or the awards ceremony contact Karen Smith, NTfW’s general manager, on Tel: 029 2061 8228 or e-mail:

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