The £17.5m reduction in the apprenticeship programme announced by the Welsh Government underscores the unparalleled pressures on its devolved budget. ACT, as a prominent member of the National Training Federation of Wales and the largest training provider in Wales, is deeply concerned about the decision.
The Welsh Government’s apprenticeship programme stands as a testament to the success of devolution. We proudly maintain one of the most effective programmes in the UK, facilitating the development of 40,000 individuals and enabling thousands of businesses to thrive annually.
Richard Spear, Managing Director at ACT, noted: “For over two decades, ACT has been a trailblazer in the delivery of apprenticeships in Wales. We have witnessed first-hand the transformative impact of these programmes on individual lives, businesses, and the broader Welsh economy.
“Apprenticeships play a vital role in shaping the future of our workforce, offering valuable opportunities for individuals to gain essential skills, experience, and qualifications. They are a powerful tool for social mobility and economic development. We understand the challenges the government faces in managing resources, but we believe that investing in apprenticeships is an investment in Wales’ future.”
In its recent budget review, the Welsh Government prioritised safeguarding services for the disadvantaged and directing support to those with the most pressing needs. ACT wholeheartedly supports this principle and emphasizes that the apprenticeship programme serves a disproportionate number of learners from disadvantaged areas. This is especially evident with Level 2 apprenticeships, providing countless adults who have missed out on prior educational opportunities with a vital entry point into the labour market and a chance to reshape their lives.
A 2021 Welsh Government evaluation underscored the critical role of apprenticeships in fostering economic growth and their positive impact in terms of “raising the skills levels of people who have low or no skills and increasing the number of people in the workforce who possess job-specific skills.”
As the Welsh Government faces tough decisions for the 2024-25 budget, we urgently implore them to steadfastly support the apprenticeship programme. Beyond the promotion of economic growth and social justice, this flagship initiative plays a pivotal role in fulfilling the strategic duties of the new Commission for Tertiary Education and Research.
ACT will continue to work with our partners, employers and the National Training Federation of Wales to ensure that Wales remains a place where every individual, regardless of their background, has the opportunity to thrive and contribute to our society and economy.