Showcasing the Best of Welsh Business

Higher Apprenticeships are the Key to Future Economic Success for the Wider Welsh Economy


What have Elvis Presley, Sir Alex Ferguson, Billy Connolly, Eric Clapton and Jamie Oliver got in common?  They all took the vocational learning route in the form of an apprenticeship before heading out on the road to fame and fortune.

Elvis was an apprentice electrician, Sir Alex an apprentice toolmaker, Billy Connolly was an apprentice welder, rock star Clapton completed a vocational course in stained glass design, while celebrity chef-to-be Jamie began working life as a catering apprentice.


All five followed the route of vocational training to gain vocational qualifications, which have never been as important to the economy and the individual as they are today.  Vocational education delivers the trained and talented employees that businesses are crying out for and ensures young people have the skills needed to succeed in education and work.

The Welsh Government is now supporting Higher Apprenticeships as a progression route from Level 2 and 3 apprenticeships, allowing learners to progress to higher-level learning. This can sometimes take the form of Foundation Degrees delivered on a part-time basis in work, professional qualification routes, such as accountancy, or as an alternative to A-levels and traditional higher education degree routes.

With the Webb Review highlighting that in 2020, 70% of the current workforce will still be in place, it is vital that businesses, training providers and higher education establishments work closely together to ensure that workers have the resources and skills necessary to drive all industries forward.  With the number of full time higher education students expected to drop in September because of the increase in student fees, it could well be that Higher Apprenticeships step in to fill the gap.

From an employee’s point of view, a Higher Apprenticeship could tick all the boxes. With so much uncertainty in today’s economic climate, people are not willing to take breaks in their careers to return to education. Added to which balancing a hectic home and work life can be difficult.

From an employer’s perspective, there are many advantages to investing in the training of existing staff.  There is a strong case to be made for improved staff retention – quality staff will be retained at least for the duration of the qualification, depending on contract stipulations and hopefully longer thanks to the commitment shown by the employer to their individual professional development.

The main impact will be the individual’s improved skill sets and the benefits this is likely to bring to the business.

To find out more about Higher Apprenticeships in Wales, please see here

Sarah John is the National Chair of the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) and writes fortnightly for Business New Wales


Duncan Foulkes Public Relations Limited is a well established communications consultancy based in beautiful Mid Wales.

Incorporating public and media relations, the consultancy provides a range of services to businesses and organisations throughout Wales and the Marches.

A former newspaper journalist for 24 years, Duncan moved into PR in 1999 after editing the County Times & Express & Gazette newspapers – the main weekly titles in Mid Wales – for five years.

His main reason for leaving the newspaper industry was a desire for a new career challenge. His successful PR business predominantly focuses on companies based in Wales and Shropshire.

His motto is to keep things as simple as possible to avoid over-complicating what is a straightforward goal – to achieve media coverage for a client.

Duncan’s wide-ranging work entails media campaigns, researching and drafting press releases, media liaison, political lobbying, event management, organising photocalls, website content advice, social media and newsletters.

He has extensive PR experience of the food and drink, education and training, catering and hospitality, insurance and financial services, manufacturing, tourism, farming, property, fine art, lubricants and telematics sectors.

His contacts extend from local newspapers in Wales to the national print and broadcast media, trade publications and digital media.

Duncan Foulkes PR uses only the most creative photographers, ensuring that photography to support his work is of the highest quality.

He is passionate about issues relating to the countryside and enjoys fly fishing, watching sport and spending time with his family in his spare time.

Services provided:

Public Relations
Media Relations
Public Affairs
Crisis Communications
Event management


Related Articles