The Welsh Government has announced that it has pledged an additional £15.5m for apprentice schemes in Wales. The aim is to encourage people into higher-level training.
Wales will also receive £138m For the UK Government’s apprenticeship levy on larger business during the same timescale.
The Welsh Government has said that the apprenticeships policy will be tailored to manage the quality of the apprentices rather than focusing on numbers. A recent think-tank warned that trying to just increase numbers of apprentices could risk poor value for money. There was a previous warning of the quality of training being sacrificed for the volume of apprentices.
The Welsh Government plans to create a minimum of 100,000 apprentices over five years – as outlined in the Taking Wales Forward programme. Between 2011-16, around 116,000 people went into training.
This move supports The Welsh Government’s aims to support the wider economic industry in Wales and increase skill-sets in areas where shortages have been proven.
The plans will focus on four main areas which include increasing the number of apprentices aged 16-19, targeting school leavers.
A shortage in certain skills will be a main focus by creating tailored apprentice schemes and growing sectors such as engineering, construction and ICT.
Skills and Science Minister, Julie James, said:
“This policy highlights our intention to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, which will require higher levels of competence than in the past. This will send a strong message about the value of apprenticeships and technical education in supporting people into sustainable employment and self-employment.”
The policy also outlines how the impact of the Apprenticeship Levy – a UK Government employment tax due to come into effect on April 6, 2017 – will be managed in Wales.
The apprenticeship levy, which is 0.5% on company payrolls, will raise £3bn a year UK-wide.
Larger companies in Wales such as Airbus in Flintshire and GE Aviation in Rhondda Cynon Taff will have to pay it.
Ms James said the policy was taking an approach which was: “better aligned” to the growing needs of Wales.
Of the additional funding, £15.5m will be invested this year to ensure that both public and private sector employers are not disadvantaged as a result of the levy.
Joanne Foster, of GE Aviation – which has approximately 65 apprentices at its site in Nantgarw welcomed the announcement and said the Welsh Government was “very agile and committed to high value jobs in Wales”.