DEPUTY MINISTER Julie James has welcomed the findings of an Estyn report highlighting success in addressing diversity and equality in the training of apprenticeships. Ms James committed the Welsh Government to sharing the best practice identified in the report among providers of Work Based Learning.
Ms James said: “We are hugely proud of our Apprenticeship programme here in Wales which is providing individuals with the opportunity to develop valuable skills and ensuring our future workforce is equipped with the tools to prosper in the economy of the future.
“We are committed though, to ensuring that everyone is able to experience the many benefits that apprenticeships have to offer, regardless of their background which is why we commissioned this report by Estyn.
“We welcome Estyn’s report which is broadly positive and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure the recommendations are addressed.
“We will now press ahead with sharing good practice models on recruitment and continue to demonstrate the positive benefits to employers of having a more inclusive and diverse workforce”.
The minister also set out the Welsh Government’s future plans for apprenticeships during a keynote speech at the National Training Federation for Wales’ annual conference.
The plans include a focussed drive on increasing the number of sixteen to eighteen year olds starting apprenticeships, a keener emphasis on higher skilled apprenticeships, particularly in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) sector and better links between Further Education programmes and Apprenticeships.
The Deputy Minister also confirmed the UK Government’s introduction of an apprenticeship levy across the UK has influenced the Welsh Government’s decision to defer publication of an implementation plan for apprenticeships in Wales.
The apprenticeship levy, announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a levy to be paid across the UK by all large employers including the public sector.
The Deputy Minister said: “We have developed an apprenticeships system that is well respected by employers, which offers the very best quality and the very best training. However, as our recent apprenticeship consultation revealed, there are areas where we can improve.
“There are too few sixteen to eighteen year olds starting apprenticeships. This has to change and that’s why we intend to re-focus our Young Recruits Programme to support additional sixteen to seventeen year old recruitment. Once we have put in place new plans for this age group, we would expect to see an increase to the six and half thousand places the network usually delivers.
“Many of our apprenticeships are also in sectors where the skills content is relatively low. This exacerbates the perception that apprenticeships are for those young people who are not capable of higher level skills.
“We must continue to grow apprenticeships in priority sectors and stretch them to meet emerging skill shortages in technical and highly skilled occupations, such as engineering and IT that will drive productivity.
“We have agreed to fund certain prescribed higher education qualifications when undertaken as part of a published Higher Apprenticeship framework. This will provide an additional stimulus to the employer market to kick start delivery in STEM related Higher Apprenticeships.
On the Welsh Government’s decision to defer publication of an implementation plan for apprenticeships in Wales the Deputy Minister said: “I am entirely supportive of the principle that employers should contribute towards the costs of apprenticeships. However, the levy proposals have been designed without consideration of the implications for the whole of the UK and encroach upon Wales’ devolved responsibilities.
“For all large employers in Wales the levy represents an additional tax burden. Up until now the UK Government has not provided any information on the potential impact on the Welsh budget, so at this point in time I’m unable to provide any assurances to employers.
“But what is clear about the levy is that it impedes our ability to craft our own policy. This is why I am deferring publication of an implementation plan for apprenticeships in Wales until more is known.”
The Welsh Conservatives have launched their own plan for apprenticeships, ‘Stronger Futures Cymru’, which they say would boost access and prioritise job creation for anyone of working age.
Accepting that apprenticeships and job-based learning play a vital role in developing an individual’s skills for the future whilst simultaneously helping businesses expand, the Welsh Conservatives say they would scrap the age cap and extend job duration, Introduce greater apprenticeship flexibility and boost promotion, and strengthen the ties between education, employment and the local business community. The Welsh Conservatives have suggested that the local business community could participate on school governing panels to advise on how best to integrate “work ready” skills into the curriculum.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for the Economy, William Graham, said: “Stronger Futures Cymru is an ambitious vision for apprenticeships in Wales and will help to ensure that Wales has a workforce equipped with the skills they need to drive the economy forward.”
Carmarthenshire students celebrate A Level and A.S. results
CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council wishes to congratulate all of the county’s students that are receiving their A-Level and A.S. results today, Thursday 18th August 2022.
Whilst this year has seen a return to exam-based results, following two years of assessment-based grading during the COVID-19 pandemic, students and teachers have still had to contend with the ongoing impact of the last 2 years.
A total of 98.6% of A Level students in Carmarthenshire achieved A*-E, which is higher than the 97.3% in 2019 when exams were last sat.
Across Carmarthenshire, a total of 40.1% of A level students have received A or A* this year, which is vastly higher than the 24.9% when exams were last sat in 2019.
After 2 years without examinations, students at AS Level also had the opportunity this year to show what knowledge they had learned and skills they had developed, through a combination of exams and assessments, applicable to different courses. 91.8 % of AS students in Carmarthenshire achieved A-E grades which, again, is higher than in 2019.
Cllr. Glynog Davies, Cabinet Member for Education and Welsh Language said: “Congratulations to every single student receiving their A-Level and A.S. results today. These young people and their teachers have worked extremely hard, within the uncertain climate that exists due to the pandemic, and they should be very proud, as am I, of their fantastic achievements.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the students, teachers and support staff of Carmarthenshire as well as their families for their hard work over the last two years.”
In a joint statement, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Chief Executive, Wendy Walters and Director of Education and Children’s Services, Gareth Morgans added: “Congratulations to our A-Level and A.S. students for their, well deserved, excellent results. The last two years have been very challenging for students, teachers, support staff, families and friends and we are grateful to everyone for their commitment and support to each other during this period.
“These young people are a credit to their schools and our county, and we wish them every success for the future.”
St. Michaels School celebrates excellent A-Level results
ST. MICHAEL’S School, Llanelli, is extremely pleased to announce another year of successful A-Level results, with 80.2% of all grades awarded either an A* or A grade.
The vast majority of pupils have earned a place at their chosen university to study courses such as Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Economics.
This is the first year that traditional exams have resumed since the Covid-19 pandemic began with the majority of lessons in the first part of the A-Level being delivered online rather than in a classroom environment. This makes the results even more of an achievement considering the circumstances.
Headmaster Mr Benson Ferrari said: “We offer our sincere congratulations to our outgoing Year 13 class on the publication of their A-Level results, demonstrating that our pupils have worked so hard despite the challenges of returning to a conventional assessment approach.
“They approached the situation with resilience and dedication, which has resulted in grades that are truly representative of their ability. I am confident that they will all go onto achieve great things at university and in their working lives.
“We wish them the best as they move to this new and exciting stage of their education. The preparation which St. Michael’s has provided will be built upon, along with our values and principles providing a lasting framework to tackle the challenges ahead.”
In 2020, St. Michael’s School was awarded The Sunday Times Welsh Independent School of the Decade and this was in part due to the excellent exam results that the school receives each year.
St. Michael’s was also ranked 13th in The Times 2019 Co Ed League Table for UK Independent Schools, which was the last time that the results were published. The school hopes that this year’s results will continue to secure their place in the 2022 league table which will be published later this year.
Children at Richmond Park Primary in Carmarthen receive enterprise education programme
CHILDREN at Richmond Park Primary in Carmarthen have embarked on an enterprise education programme provided to the school by VINCI Building, the UK construction division of VINCI Construction, which is delivering upgrades and infrastructure works at Withybush General Hospital under the joint venture IHP, the alliance between VINCI Construction UK and Sir Robert McAlpine.
VINCI Building has partnered with 2B Enterprising to provide the children with an innovative enterprise skills programme called The Bumbles of Honeywood. This programme is exclusively focussed on primary education and is delivered in collaboration with commercial business partners through the 2B Enterprising Corporate Engagement Partner programme. To date this unique model has partnered 70 businesses with 170 schools across the country educating over 10,000 children.
The aim is to help children develop enterprise skills from an early age and to boost awareness of the careers available in construction. As well as supplying the package, VINCI Building’s team have visited the school to talk about their work and have arranged for pupils to visit VINCI Building at work.
The Bumbles of Honeywood programme has been developed by entrepreneurial business leaders and experienced educators with extensive input from teachers. Cultivating entrepreneurship and enterprise skills from a young age shows huge value in equipping pupils for their future lives and careers. Lesson plans have been created to ensure teachers can map the learning to their curriculum – not only hitting entrepreneurial skills criteria but supporting other areas of learning such as Oracy, Literacy, Numeracy and Modern and Foreign Languages.
The programme is built around a series of beautifully illustrated books and interactive extension activities that explore the enterprising nature of honeybees and other characters to help children develop skills such as resilience, problem solving, leadership, communication, and teamwork.
Russell Flowers, regional director for VINCI Building, said: “This is an exciting programme that raises awareness about careers and supports the communities we work in. We want to encourage more young people, in particular more young women, to consider careers in construction, and this programme will help us to achieve that. Our teams really enjoy their visits to the schools and are impressed by the children’s energy and enthusiasm. This is a great investment in our future generations.”
Helen Wyn Luff, Headteacher at Richmond Park Primary said: “As a Carmarthen school, very local to Glangwili Hospital, we have been thrilled to be able to welcome VINCI Building and The Bumbles of Honeywood into our school.
“The children adore the characters in The Bumbles of Honeywood programme which is thoughtfully devised and provides the children with stories and activities which are both fun and informative.
“VINCI Building have also supported us in our Maths Week – a week where all classes focussed fully on developing both practical and reasoning skills. A visit from staff at VINCI Building really helped bring aspects of this week to life. The children were very enthusiastic about this project and about meeting people from VINCI Building to find out more about their work. This programme not only gives the pupils vital skills for their future lives; it also gets them thinking about what career they could aspire to.
“We look forward to exploring the Bumbles of Honeywood further and working closely with VINCI Building.”
Jayne Brewer, 2B Enterprising CEO, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with VINCI Building to bring The Bumbles of Honeywood into five more schools. Enterprise education is increasingly being recognised as a key requirement, and something that should start from a young age. Our Corporate Engagement Partners play a vital part in this, helping to inspire and educate pupils by giving them real life examples of enterprise in action. As well as helping the pupils gain valuable life skills, VINCI Building are introducing them to the wide array of job opportunities that exist in construction and raising awareness of the exciting building projects happening in their area.”
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