Julie James, Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology
On 22 January, I launched a consultation on Aligning the apprenticeship model with the needs of the Welsh economy. The purpose of the consultation was to seek the views of employers, apprentices, training providers and other stakeholders to help shape and inform the future of the apprenticeship programme in Wales in line with the ambitions within the Policy statement on skills which we published in 2014. The consultation was open for 13 weeks and closed on 24 April 2015.
I am grateful to all the young people, employers and organisations who responded to the consultation. We had over 130 formal responses and 21 informal responses, together with 163 responses to the version aimed at young people.
I am pleased that the vast majority of respondents were generally supportive of a new approach to apprenticeships in Wales. There was a great deal of support for the development of Higher Apprenticeships, although not at the expense of Foundation Apprenticeships which were felt to fulfil a crucial role for many employers.
Several of the responses focused on the need for better communication of the benefits of apprenticeships – for employers, for schools and for parents – and for apprenticeships to have parity with academic qualifications.
Whilst respondents agreed that much could be learned from the apprenticeship programmes being developed in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, there was a consistent desire for a programme designed specifically to meet the needs of employers and young people in Wales; especially when considering the number of SMEs and micro-businesses in Wales. There was also a clear message to ensure the voice of smaller employers was not lost in the development of apprenticeship programmes.
What emerged strongly through the consultation was the importance of close working relationships between government, employers and education providers (especially in Further Education and Higher Education) to ensure that the
programmes are developed consistently, with clear and equitable skills levels, and with clear progression routes for learners.
Overall the respondents to the young people’s consultation were supportive of apprenticeships and felt they provided young people with clear opportunities for the future. The vast majority of respondents felt that it was important that apprenticeship programmes were developed to be strong and suitable for employers and learners across Wales.
Responses to the consultation will be used to inform the development of an implementation plan for a new apprenticeship model for Wales which will be published later this year.
A summary of the consultation responses has been published on the Welsh Government website.