A major review into education in Wales has found an inability to attract and retain talent due to "inadequate "educational and employment opportunities.
The comments come in a report led by Professor Hazelkorn, who notes the 'considerable' challenges the sector is under.
The review was commissioned in July 2015 when the Education Minister asked her to review the oversight and regulation of post-compulsory education and training.
My impression is of a Welsh post-compulsory system, and its people, which is strongly committed to strengthening its role and contribution to society and the economy, to enhancing quality and participation.
Underpinning the report, which aims for Wales to become 'world class' in the sector, are ambitions to:
Enhance educational and career opportunities
Help regional social, cultural and economic development
Boost institutional and national global competitiveness
The review emphasises how education and training can enhance career opportunities; with Universities Wales telling ITV News that they're pleased the report recognises the roles universities play in economic prosperity and social justice.
“The National Training Federation for Wales (NTFW) has previously called for a review of all post-compulsory education and we are pleased to see that the Hazelkorn report looks set us on the journey to a more responsive education system. Our economy needs an education system that recognises that learning part time and in the workplace can be just as educationally challenging as learning academic subjects in a classroom. Work-based learning is equally suited to more able and talented learners.
There are six key recommendations:
Develop an overarching vision for the post-compulsory education system for Wales based upon stronger links between education policy, providers and provisions and social and economic goals
To establish a single new authority, to be called the tertiary education authority, as the single regulatory, oversight and coordinating authority in the sector. This would mean replacing HEFCW.
Place the needs of learners at the centre of the educational system.
All institutions should address the full range of responsibilities towards society
Create a better balance between supply-led and demand-led education
Create the appropriate policies, processes and practices to encourage better long-term and joint-and up thinking about the educational needs and requirements for Wales, now and into the future.
“The current Welsh Government has worked with ColegauCymru, the National Training Federation for Wales and other partners to improve access to vocational learning pathways, recognise the value of vocational learning options post-16 on a national level, and supported a growth in apprenticeships. But structures have held Wales back from being able to be as flexible as we need to be in order to deliver a seamless post-compulsory education and training system that works for learners, employers and entrepreneurs at all levels."
The Education Minister says he welcomes the report but that it will be up to the next government to decide what to do about it. As for the body that could be cut, HEFCW, they say they will work closely with the next government as it considers the recommendations.