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The programme has been designed to allow the further education sector to respond and develop provision to address job specific, higher-level skills gaps.

This is available at a regional level as identified by Regional Skills Partnerships. It also supports further education (FE) institutions to develop the skills base of their staff through continued professional development activity.

This research covers both the pilot year of delivery (2015-16), and the following year of delivery (2016-17). 

Main findings

  • There is a high level of satisfaction among FE providers with the Skills Priorities Programme (SPP). FE institutions emphasised that the main benefit of SPP has been the opportunity for teaching staff to complete Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities. They perceived this as having been beneficial to their teaching and students’ learning. FE institutions also consider the flexibility and adaptability of SPP, compared to European Social Fund (ESF) funding, to be a major advantage. 
  • Less delivery took place under strand 1 than expected due to timescales, perceived overlaps with ESF programmes, and perceived greater return on investment from strand 2/3 activity. Nevertheless, FE institutions have learnt from this as reflected in their planning for the 2017-2019.
  • Colleges interviewed perceived some displacement effects associated with SPP, in that staff to replace those undertaking CPD placements was difficult. Additionally, they reported a lack of engagement with employer representative groups and employers to replace those staff undertaking CPD placements.  
  • Those businesses that are benefiting from SPP have been pleased with the engagement and cite internal up skilling as one of the tangible benefits. This has been reflected in a series of case studies which policy officials have commissioned. 
  • Co-investment remains a challenge, after a legacy of many years of essentially free skills provision. 


There were 3 recommendations for improving any future SPP fund:

  • Welsh Government should do more to advertise the programme. As promoting these opportunities can at times prove challenging to both employers and individuals for strand one, and for staff for strand two
  • Welsh Government should communicate and distinguish the SPP from similar programmes. This has the potential to help employers better identify the programme and the benefits thereof
  • Welsh Government should consider operating a more structured and consistent system of data collection. In particular regarding outputs and outcomes emerging from activity to support ongoing monitoring and evaluation. This is suggested as the results reported in the final reports were hard to compare across Wales.


Evaluation of the Skills Priority Programme , file type: PDF, file size: 932 KB

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Evaluation of the Skills Priority Programme: summary , file type: PDF, file size: 329 KB

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Hannah Davies

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