National Apprenticeship Week: Welsh Government invests £366 million into apprenticeships

  • Video Report by ITV Wales Reporter Mike Griffiths

As Apprenticeship Week Wales begins, the Welsh Government says it's investing £366 million to deliver apprenticeships across wales over the next three years.

The investment will go towards creating 125,000 apprenticeships in Wales.

The Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said it will help support the Welsh Government’s commitment to ensure at least 90% of 16 to 24-year-olds in Wales will be in education, employment, or training by 2050.

Sam Crooks who is a current apprentice at Newport's Openreach training centre says he came from retail but he's enjoying the change in career direction.

Sam is training at the Welsh National Openreach Training centre in Newport.

Sam said, "One day a colleague came into where I used to work and he said it was a really good place to work.

"Yes it's an apprenticeship but we are here to work. It's nothing like college when I did my music technology course, where you have to sit behind a desk.

"It's very different from what I'm used to but I think it's going to be a career I'm going to enjoy."

Chris Jones says he feels a lot of satisfaction from training Sam and other apprentices at Openreach.

"At the end of the week we will be sending them away with the skills that they need to do a really important job and it's fantastic.

"We break it down into different subjects so they'll have 13 weeks, depending on what type of engineer they are going to become and [they] have 'x' amount of weeks in training." He said.

Apprenticeship Week Wales is a celebration of the hard work of apprentices and the support shown by their employers.

Mr Gething said the apprenticeship programme aims to increase opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to develop transferable skills in the workplace and boost their life chances.

"Apprenticeships can help futureproof, motivate and diversify a workforce – offering people the chance to gain high-quality vocational skills. They are also crucial to our ambitious vision for a Wales where no one is held back." He said.

However, reaching the goal of delivering over 100,00 apprenticeships by 2026 has been made harder by the UK Government due to its failure to honour its commitment that Wales would not lose "a single penny" as a result of the UK leaving the EU according to Mr Gething.

"With £1 billion in promised post EU funds missing from the Welsh budget, tough decisions have been required to prioritise this major pledge." He said.

"More than two years on from the grand promises made by the Prime Minister, it is now clear that Wales is being left with less say, over less money. 

"Drift and indecision in Whitehall is costing our least well off communities jobs and projects at the worst possible time.

"Last year's Spending Review confirmed that the UK Government has broken its promise to replace EU funding for Wales in full and there is no sign that the White Paper will change this.

"This is not "levelling up", it's levelling down."

The minister urges people and employers to see how apprenticeships can 'supercharge' their futures.

The Welsh Government has said analysis shows that Wales will lose around £750m over three years compared to the amount it received under EU aid programmes.

Mr Gething added, "While we cannot escape the impacts of the loss of that funding in the years ahead, we will invest an additional £30 million up to 2024-25 to ensure ongoing delivery of our all-age apprenticeship programme, as well as support for the expansion of Shared Apprenticeships and Degree Apprenticeships."

UK Government response

A UK Government spokesperson said: "The UK Government will match EU funds in Wales through Wales’s share of the £2.6 billion UK Shared Prosperity Fund and other local growth funding – including the Levelling Up Fund and Community Ownership Fund. Wales will also continue to benefit from EU funding over the coming years.

  • Each year Wales received on average £375m a year in EU funds. The UK Government has made clear our commitment to Wales receiving at least that amount annually going forward.

  • This is in addition to UK Government funding in Wales to maintain the budget for farmers (£900 million over the next three years), provide investment by the British Business Bank (£130m) and invest in city and growth deals over the next ten years (£790m in total).

  • UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) will ramp up to £1.5bn a year UK-wide by 2024-25. UKSPF is not directly replacing EU Funds. It improves on these funds by focusing on UK priorities, cutting burdensome bureaucracy and giving local areas a greater say in investments"

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