The Welsh Government announced on 7 March 2017 their new apprenticeship scheme. Key points are that they want to create a minimum of 100,000 high quality apprentices in Wales over this Assembly term by focussing on four priority areas:
- Increasing the number of apprentices aged 16-19 by increasing the take-up of quality apprenticeships amongst school leavers.
- Addressing skills shortages by developing apprenticeships particularly in growth and emerging sectors such as the ICT, Engineering, Construction and Financial and Professional Services.
- Developing higher level skills by focussing on apprenticeships at level 4 and above where returns tend to be higher.
- Developing skills pathways by integrating apprenticeships into the wider education system and making it easier for someone to enter into an apprenticeship from another learning route.
Liz Maher, president of the South and Mid Wales Chambers of Commerce, commented:
“Today’s announcement will go some way to addressing the skills gap that our members regularly raise with us as one of the major challenges facing businesses in Wales.
“We have been calling for increased investment in higher-level apprenticeships for some time. Our members have been telling us that they need people trained to this level and we are pleased that the Welsh Government is listening. It will also support Welsh businesses operating in key high-growth and emerging sectors like ICT, engineering and financial services, as well as boosting the earning potential of apprentices after they qualify.
“We will be working with our members to make sure that they are aware of how they can take advantage of the opportunities offered by apprenticeships, to ensure that their businesses have the skills they need.”
Colin Brew, chief executive of the West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce, added:
“The new policy and five-year plan is a positive step forward, especially as the apprenticeships will be targeted to areas where research has shown they are needed. We must, however, remember that the skills-gap is broad and apprenticeships alone won’t solve this.
“We need to see progress in the development and implementation of the new national curriculum for Welsh schools and for FE colleges to do more to adapt their courses to match the needs of local employers.
“Businesses have a role to play too in working proactively with schools and colleges in their area to help prepare young people for the world of work.”