Work Together To Deliver For Wales Says Chairman

Posted on by admin

The new chairman of the National Training Federation Wales has called on all education and training providers to work together to deliver the most ambitious plans in the nation’s history to transform learning.

“It makes both utter commonsense and an economic necessity that schools, colleges and work based learning providers mobilise our collective assets and skills, staff and facilities to eliminate wasteful competition, duplication of reserves and assets to deliver for Wales,” Arwyn Watkins told the NTFW’s ‘Skills Working for Wales’ conference in Cardiff.

He said the Welsh Assembly Government’s plans to transform education and training provision in Wales represented a formidable challenge, but the NTFW was perfectly placed to play a key role in delivering the ambitious programme.

Working in the same communities as schools and colleges across Wales, Federation members engaged with around 30,000 employers of employees and apprentices.

“We are key planning and delivery partners committed to the shared goal of a highly educated, highly skilled, high employment Wales,” he added. “We need to ensure that the Welsh economy can survive and thrive in the new fraught global economic environment.

“It will be an agenda that will have to be shaped and delivered in a very different economic and employment context – of probably rapidly rising unemployment reaching sectors and services that we, perhaps, thought were immune.

“Everyone, every asset, every resource will have to be mobilised to deliver. I say everyone and every resource because, incredibly, it does not yet seem to have got home to everyone that we should all be mobilised together – our schools our colleges, work based learning providers, Assembly and Assembly Government.”

He made stinging criticism of the Assembly Government for not recognising the importance of work based learning. It was a nonsense, he said, that he and NTFW president, Lord Ted Rowlands, “had to plead before an Assembly committee” for work based learning providers and 16-19 year olds in work to be included not excluded from planning and delivering the new learning entitlement.

“Sadly, anyone who reads the evidence from schools, Local Education Authorities, governors and the teaching professions to the Assembly committee will be left with an impression that protecting interests comes before accepting the challenge of real collaboration to develop and deliver the kind of learning and skills agenda so necessary in these times,” he added.

“Sadly, too, I have to report that the Assembly Government and other learning sectors are running away from the robust and absolutely essential collaboration model recommended in the Webb Review.

“If skills that will work for Wales is to be the goal then this Federation should without question be the first name on the team sheet not repeatedly having to beg to be included on the bench as a reserve or a substitute.”

In his speech, Deputy Minister for Skills John Griffiths welcomed the frank exchange of views and stressed that the Federation had a key role to play in upskilling people in the transformation agenda.

He went on to outline the Assembly Government’s plans, including replacing the SkillBuild programme, involving employers in the design and development of Modern Apprenticeship frameworks and improving the role of Sector Skills Councils.

He appealed to employers across Wales not to reduce training in the current economic climate and pledged Assembly Government support for them. History had shown that employers who continued to invest in training during a recession ended up much stronger and better prepared for economic upturn, he said.

He called for all providers to work together to rapidly evolve and change the post 16 education and training system. “Working in isolation is not an option,” he said. “The Assembly Government will not be content with changes that make limited improvements around the margins.”

He also pledged to “cut through red tape” to ensure that precious public money is not wasted.

Dennis Gunning, director of skills, higher education and lifelong learning at the Assembly Government’s Department of Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills, said he could see no reason why young learners should not be able to aim for the Welsh Baccalaureate and a Modern Apprenticeship simultaneously in the future.

“That would go a long way to bridging the division between the academic and vocational,” he said. “It is a longstanding British problem that many secondary schools continue to privilege one learning pathway above others. We cannot afford to lose talented young people by saying higher education is the only option.”

To achieve the Assembly Government’s goal of 80 per cent employment in Wales would require collaboration by all key stakeholders, including the NFTW, he stressed.

HMI Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales, Dr Bill Maxwell, highlighted the substantial and continuing improvement in the quality of management and delivery in work-based learning over the past three years.

He also outlined plans by Estyn for a more streamlined inspection process for work-based learning providers in Wales from 2010.

The other keynote speaker, Professor Dylan Jones-Evans, director of research and innovation at the University of Wales, focused on what the employer needs and expects from training.

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.

More News Articles