Extra £5m for apprenticeships welcomed by apprentices and colleges
Apprentices and training providers have warmly welcomed the Welsh Government’s award of an additional £5million for apprenticeships in Wales.
The Minister for Finance and Government Business, Jane Hutt announced the additional funding of £5million in 2016/17 during last month’s Welsh budget. The funding will support approximately an extra 2,500 apprenticeships across Wales. In more good news for adult learners, the Finance Minister also confirmed that funding for Further Education will be protected at its current level.
Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James will meet apprentices and their trainers during a visit to Bridgend College’s Pencoed campus today (21st January). One of the apprentices the Deputy Minister will meet is Maria Brooks, a Mechanical Engineering Apprentice from Ford, Bridgend. Maria described how her apprenticeship has boosted her career prospects:
"This apprenticeship has given me the chance at having a career in engineering which I had not considered possible after higher education. It gives me the opportunity to work towards new qualifications whilst obtaining practical experience.”
Simon Pirotte, Principal of Bridgend College added:
"It is very encouraging that during such austere times, Welsh Government has announced an additional £5million investment into the apprenticeship budget.
"At Bridgend College we see the tremendous economic and social value that apprenticeships bring to Wales on a daily basis. This year we have utilised additional apprenticeship funding to respond to employer demand and create brand new apprenticeship routes in veterinary nursing and sports turf management whilst continuing to offer a range of engineering and construction apprenticeships.
"An additional £5million will help apprenticeship providers continue to work with employers to develop the higher level apprenticeship programmes that the Welsh economy needs. The announcement of an unchanged FE budget is also welcome following previous challenging settlements."
Earlier this week the Deputy Minister set out how the Welsh Government plans to broaden the scope of apprenticeships. This includes raising the number of school leavers going on to high quality apprenticeships, a sharper focus on Higher Level apprenticeships and developing apprenticeships in Engineering and Manufacturing as well as expanding the growing areas of Professional, Digital and Creative Apprenticeships.
The Deputy Minister said:
"We are rightly proud of our apprenticeship system and of our thousands of talented and dedicated apprentices here in Wales. I’m particularly proud that Wales leads the way in the UK with apprenticeship completion rates remaining over 80%. This compares favourably with the equivalent rate in England of 69%.
"For too long though vocational learning has been seen as the ‘second best’ option compared to traditional academic routes. The Finance Minister’s announcement of an additional £5million means we can broaden the scope and reach of apprenticeships and expand our ‘earning and learning approach’ which we believe will help Wales remain internationally competitive.
"Jane Hutt’s announcement that funding for Further Education will be protected is also excellent news. It will help colleges to continue to provide opportunities for young people and adults to improve their knowledge and skills, whether they are progressing to further study, entering the workforce for the first time or learning new skills later in life.
"The jobs of tomorrow will require higher levels of competence than in the past. That’s why it’s important that Further Education and Apprenticeships are able to evolve to meet these challenges”.
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