Training Providers Urged To Access European Funding
Work based training providers across Wales have been urged to work together to make a bid for money from the European Convergence fund to address specific business training and development needs.
The call came from Professor Dylan Jones-Evans, director of research and innovation at the University of Wales, when addressing the ‘Skills Working for Wales’ conference, organised by the National Training Federation Wales (NTFW) in Cardiff.
He told delegates that businesses and training providers had not been properly consulted about how European funds were spent in Wales. Only 32 per cent of the Objective One budget in Wales had been geared to skills and training, but this had increased to 40 per cent from the Convergence Fund.
The NTFW was ideally placed to identify the training requirements of Welsh businesses, he said. He encouraged providers to work closely with businesses to develop programmes that would improve skills and attract Convergence Fund support.
“There are companies out there that want to get involved in gaining access to the Convergence Fund,” he told delegates. “Look at the sectors that you deal with and think about how you can work together to provide the sort of training that companies will require. That is what will make a difference.”
He appealed to Welsh companies not to cut back on skills training during the recession. “We have some excellent companies in Wales and we can come out of recession in 18 months’ time in a far better position than many other countries,” he said. “But we must make sure that companies don’t cut back on education and training.”
He revealed that there were now 317 companies included on the Wales Fast Growth 50 list, which celebrated its 10th birthday this year. These companies had created 15,000 jobs and increased turnover by £4 billion, which was 10 per cent the Welsh gross domestic product. They all said that training and people development had contributed to their success.
Financial services, retail and construction, sectors which had seen massive growth over the last four years, would be hardest hit by the recession. “They will require different types of training and you will need to be creative about what you offer them,” he told delegates.
“Too often training providers are the last organisations to be consulted on economic development in Wales. You have got to persuade Government that it is worth funding training for small businesses.”
NTFW chairman Arwyn Watkins, said the federation was in the process of putting together a questionnaire to be circulated to Welsh businesses to discover their skills needs before submitting a Convergence Fund bid.
“As our network of providers is engaged with about 30,000 businesses in Wales daily, we are well placed to understand the changing needs of employers and to provide the Welsh Assembly Government with an economic barometer for business,” he added.
The NTFW has a network of 80 members nationwide involved in the delivery of post 16 learning. They comprise private sector training providers, local authorities, further education institutions, charities and the voluntary sector.
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