(Title Image: Wales Online)
In March, the Welsh Government published a plan to turn Wales into a “full employment, high-tech, high wage economy”, with the core aim of helping marginalised groups back into work or helping those who are already in work “achieve their potential”.
Minister for the Welsh Language & Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan (Lab, Mid & West Wales), told AMs that at least £12million has been invested in skills development and individual/tailored support services.
A review of how further education colleges will be funded, as well asthe creation of apprenticeships in areas that they’ve never been used before (such as healthcare sciences and forestry) also form part of the plans, though details are still being worked out.
“We’re also making progress on delivering a radical review of the current funding formula for further education, and we’ll look to implement changes in the 2019-20 academic year in order to make the system more efficient and, again, more flexible for regional skills needs.
– Minister for Lifelong Learning, Eluned Morgan AM
A target will be set later this year to reduce the employment gap between the disabled and non-disabled.
Optimism & Pessimism
Shadow Skills Secretary, Mohammad Asghar AM (Con, South Wales East), called for better collaboration between industry and education. With digital skills developing at a rapid pace, he also called for the latest equipment to be made available to ensure training in digital skills was up to date.
“Wales, at one point, was in the vanguard with adult education, but look at where we are now. Coleg Harlech is in decline as a symbol of a lack of investment—not only in Wales; the same pattern has existed in England too—in terms of evening classes and so on and so forth, where people would go of their own accord to climb the ladder, either in the same sector, or to retrain in preparation for another sector.”
– Adam Price AM (Plaid, Carms. E & Dinefwr)
The discussion moved to the potential impact of automation and the need to re-skill the workforce through adult education. Adam Price AM asked how much funding was going to the adult education sector, which he believes was the most appropriate place to “prepare everyone for the challenge”.
The Minister raised the idea of individual learning accounts, where workers are able to study whilst in employment.
“Figures provided to me by the National Autistic Society show that the number of autistic people in full-time employment is lower than the average disabled cohort. For example, 32 per cent of autistic adults are in some kind of employment compared to 40 per cent across all disabilities UK-wide.”
– Hefin David AM (Lab, Caerphilly)
Hefin David AM raised Project SEARCH with the Minister – a programme to support people with learning disabilities into work by providing internships.
The Minister praised the programme but accepted there was more work to do, raising the prospect of possibly reserving jobs for those with certain learning disabilities.