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Apprenticeships are a great success story for Wales

By Sarah John, chair of the National Training Federation for Wales

Work-based learning in Wales is a great success for the Welsh Government. Over the last 18 months, the Apprenticeship programme, in particular, has seen fantastic growth with almost 6,000 more apprentices commencing learning during the 2017/18 contract year than in the previous year.

Some of this success can be attributed to the impact of the Apprenticeship Levy for large employers, where the tax they now pay has increased interest and activity in the Apprenticeship programme. Other contributory factors include the collaborative activity that has taken place between the NTfW and the Welsh Government, investing in external marketing, employer events and promotional activity, such as the ‘Have a Go’ programme in schools, Skills Cymru and other successful skills competitions.

We must also not forget that, over the last 12 months, the NTfW has become the ‘one stop shop’ for all Apprenticeship enquiries, taking forward the referral process from the Welsh Government’s Business Wales Skills Gateway.

This is good news for Wales. In my role, I see every day the positive and, in some cases, transformational impact that work-based learning has on young people and apprentices across Wales.

Individuals in the workplace are developing their experience and skills, providing a valuable contribution to the success of the organisations and businesses in which they are working.

The success of the Apprenticeship programme has seen an increase in:

  • * engagement by employers
  • * the number of new learners entering learning
  • * the level and different sectors of Apprenticeship now being delivered
  • * the focus of providers to deliver in the economic priority sectors identified by Regional Skills Partnerships
  • collaboration across the post 16 network
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More recently, the establishment of the Wales Apprenticeship Advisory Board, an employer led body, has steered the future direction for the revision of current and creation of future Apprenticeships for Wales.

All this activity, which is aimed at improving the Welsh economy, will ensure that we all contribute to a more prosperous Wales.

As a network of providers, we continue to play a central role in the development of regionals skills plans. Our employers will expect us to support their emerging skills needs and we must continue to provide good advice and guidance to all potential learners when choosing a learning pathway, ensuring we embrace and encourage inclusivity and use of the Welsh language in work-based learning.

The Welsh Government’s commitment for a minimum 100,000 quality, all age Apprenticeships over the remainder of this Assembly is certainly achievable but we must continue to work together if we are to maintain the momentum created to date.

We need everybody associated with Apprenticeships, whether learners, employers or work-based learning practitioners, to become ambassadors.  Be passionate about the positive effects that the programme has had in your life or your business and tell other people about it.

I’ve spent 25 years in this sector and I’m still annoying people with my stories about learners I have seen blossom and progress and businesses I have seen grow.

Work-based learning is a key driver for employment and productivity needed to improve the economy of Wales and the NTfW is well placed to support all interested individuals and organisations to find the right solutions.

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