S4C criticised for English-only apprenticeships

S4C Headquarters in Carmarthen. Picture by Rhodri ap Dyfrig (CC BY-SA 4.0)

S4C has only funded English-medium apprenticeships over the last four years, according to research by a language campaign group.

Since 2015, the Welsh language broadcaster has employed three apprentices, who were all non-Welsh speakers, according to S4C’s response to a freedom of information request by Cymdeithas yr Iaith.

The response is part of wider research by the group which also shows that only one local authority has offered Welsh-medium apprenticeships in the past four years.

The data also showed that not a single police force or health board has employed an apprentice who has studied through the medium of Welsh

Although very few council apprentices studied in Welsh, a number of councils had employed trainees who speak Welsh since 2015. However, S4C had only employed non-Welsh speaking apprentices over the same period.

Responding to the news, Toni Schiavone from Cymdeithas yr Iaith said there were big questions to ask of S4C and its employment policy.

“They’ve had very few apprenticeships at all – they should be taking advantage of the massive budget in Wales for apprenticeships,” he said.

“The Welsh Government is spending over a hundred million pounds on this every year, but S4C is not benefiting from it.

“We’re asking for a commitment from S4C bosses that they will employ a significant number of apprentices in Welsh language schemes over the coming years.

“On the other hand, the Urdd is an example of a body which trains a large number of apprentices through the medium of Welsh. S4C needs to learn lessons from them.”

Cymdeithas yr Iaith have called for ten million pounds to be earmarked to the Coleg Cymraeg from the £111m Welsh Government apprenticeships budget, in order to ensure that more apprenticeships are available in Welsh.

“Increasing the use of Welsh in the workplace is key if the language is to thrive over the coming years,” Toni Schiavone said.

“It’s unacceptable that public bodies still accept without question that the world of work and training is almost entirely in English. For a number of years, there has only been a miniscule number of Welsh-medium apprenticeships.

“The commendable decision to extend the Coleg Cymraeg’s responsibilities to include this area offers an important opportunity to make a real difference.

“But in order to tackle the totally unacceptable situation we have at present, we’re calling on the Government to earmark £10 million out of its £111.51 million for the Coleg Cymraeg so it can start to change the situation.

“This wouldn’t cost the Government a single penny – it’s just a matter of transferring money from the current budget to the Coleg Cymraeg.”

The research will be discussed at an event on the Maes of the National Urdd Eisteddfod in Cardiff Bay – in the Japan Room at the Wales Millennium Centre at 2pm on Thursday, 30 May.

The BBC also responded to Cymdeithas yr Iaith’s freedom of information request, but they said they did not hold data on the number of Welsh-medium apprenticeships nor in which language the trainees studied.

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