Welsh Gov ploughs £366m into apprenticeships despite Westminster funding cuts
The Welsh Government is investing £366m over the next three years to deliver 125,000 all-age apprenticeships across Wales, it has announced.
But Economy Minister Vaughan Gething has said that this has been made “harder” by funding cuts by Westminster, resulting from £1bn of “promised post EU funds” going “missing from the Welsh budget”.
He said that because of this “tough decisions have been required to prioritise this major pledge.”
The Minister, who made the announcement at the start of Apprenticeship Week Wales 2022, said this investment will help support the Welsh Government’s commitment to ensure at least 90% of 16-24 year olds in Wales will be in education, employment, or training by 2050.
It also aims to eradicate the gap between the employment rate in Wales and the UK by 2050. The Minister says this will help deliver a fairer Wales that leaves no one behind and makes Wales a place where people can feel confident in planning their future here.
The Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship programme aims to increase opportunities for people of all ages and background to develop transferable skills in the workplace and boost their life chances.
It will support employers and their employees, with a particular priority for new recruits, throughout Wales. The Apprenticeship programme is also an important part of the Young Person’s Guarantee.
The investment will also help build an economy based on the principles of fair work, sustainability and the industries and services of the future.
Apprenticeship Week Wales 2022 is a celebration of the hard work and dedication of apprentices and the support and commitment shown by their employers.
‘Biggest single influence’
Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Reaching our ambitious goal of delivering 125,000 apprenticeships by 2026 has been made harder by the UK Government. With £1bn in promised post EU funds missing from the Welsh budget, tough decisions have been required to prioritise this major pledge.
“While we cannot escape the impacts of the loss of that funding in the years ahead, we will invest an additional £30m up to 2024-25 to ensure ongoing delivery of our all-age apprenticeship programme, as well as support for the expansion of Shared Apprenticeships and Degree Apprenticeships.
“Despite the tough financial backdrop, we are prioritising the support needed to deliver a Team Wales recovery, built by all of us.”
The Minister added: “Skills and qualifications are the biggest single influence on a person’s chance of being in employment, and on them earning a good income and offering a route out of poverty and protection against it.
“So at the start of Apprenticeship Week Wales 2022, I am delighted to confirm this Welsh Government’s commitment to delivering 125,000 all-age apprenticeships across Wales during this term of government – with a significant investment of £366m to deliver the programme over the next three years.
“Apprenticeships can help futureproof, motivate and diversify a workforce – offering people the chance to gain high-quality vocational skills. They are also crucial to our ambitious vision for a Wales where no one is held back.
“I urge people across Wales and employers to see how apprenticeships can supercharge their futures this Apprenticeship Week Wales 2022.”
The Welsh Government hopes the £366m will increase opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to develop transferable skills in the workplace and improve their lives.
It is also aiming to help tackle skills shortages and gaps in priority sectors critical to drive productivity and economic growth, supporting our net zero ambitions, the every-day foundational economy and public services.
Over the next three years, Ministers will also invest more in supporting people with disabilities to take up apprenticeship opportunities.
This will support our commitment to eradicate the gap between the employment rate in Wales and the UK by 2050, with a focus on Fair Work and raising labour market participation of under-represented groups.
The Apprenticeship Employer Incentive Scheme formed a key part of our Covid Commitment to support businesses and workers in recovering from the impacts of the public health crisis.
Over the first year of the scheme, the incentives saw more than 5,500 new apprentices recruited.
Ministers are currently exploring extending the scheme until the end of March, given the positive impact it is having on encouraging employers to recruit apprentices.
The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund. For more information about recruiting an apprentice, visit: www.gov.wales/apprenticeshipswales or call 03000 6 03000.
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