Ken Skates, Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology
Skills have a major impact on both the economic and social wellbeing of Wales as a substantial policy area devolved to the Welsh Government. Together with policy action to support the employability of individuals, skills provide a strong lever for tackling poverty and strengthening the creation of jobs and growth.
Like all other nations, we cannot afford to ignore the fact that we are part of a global race to develop our skills. It is these skills that will define our future competitiveness and support Wales to evolve into a highly-skilled nation capable of raising productivity, reducing barriers into work and supporting people into employment. To achieve this future vision we must recognise the major policy challenges facing us over the next decade and agree on the action needed to affect change in the long term.
Over recent months, the Department for Education and Skills has been working with stakeholders to develop the basis for a new Policy Statement on Skills, the aim of which is to make that case for change and define a new set of principles under which we believe the skills system will need to operate in order to guarantee its ongoing resilience.
Given the context of more scarce resources, it is imperative that we are able to assess how collective interventions, in conjunction with other key delivery and funding mechanisms such as European funding and cost sharing between government, employers and individuals, can best be enabled and steered in order to deliver a sustainable skills system for Wales.
The Policy Statement focuses exclusively on our post-19 skills interventions and defines those activities that provide the skills needed for employment (i.e. for those individuals looking for work) as well as those skills that are needed to enhance someone’s employment and support businesses (i.e. the skills of the workforce).
The structure of the Policy Statement reflects its overall purpose in providing the long-term and strategic view of how the skills system in Wales will need to evolve over the next decade and covers four priority areas for the Welsh Government:
Skills for jobs and growth
Focuses on how Wales can stimulate demand for a more highly skilled society that can drive forward our economy in the pursuit of jobs and growth.
Skills that respond to local needs
Describes how Wales must develop a skills system which reflects the needs of local communities, including providing a streamlined and accessible employment and skills offer for both individuals and employers.
Skills that employers value
Recognises the importance of engaging employers to participate in the skills system and describes the level of co-investment needed alongside government if Wales is to remain competitive.
Skills for employment
Explores the role of the skills system in providing the employment support necessary to assist individuals into employment and to progress in work, both of which are central to our tackling poverty agenda in Wales.
We have already achieved a great deal and there is some excellent practice across Wales which has had a significant impact on this agenda. However, there remain many challenges ahead, many of which cut across departments within the Welsh Government.
By working together, being creative, innovative and inspirational, I am confident that Wales can rise to the challenges and address the actions captured in this Statement.
The Policy Statement on Skills will be followed by a consultation on co-investment and supported by an implementation plan which will be published in summer 2014.