Colofn: Wythnos Prentisiaethau

Sioned Williams yn ysgrifennu am bwysigrwydd cynlluniau prentisiaeth a'r sioc o doriadau ariannol

The image shows a photograph of Sioned Williams column for the Glamorgan Gazette. The words are included in full in the article.

Cyhoeddwyd yr erthygl hon yn Glamorgan Gazette ddydd Iau 8 Chwefror 2024 (yn Saesneg)


National Apprenticeship Week: Sioned Williams MS, Plaid Cymru Member of Senedd for South Wales West, writes about the importance of apprenticeship schemes and the shock that funding has been so drastically cut.

There’s not a lot that politicians of every colour agree on, yet apprenticeships are one topic that spans the political divide. It’s the one unifying call – the need to build on what we already have.

For me, it’s not just about training up school leavers ready to start their career, apprenticeships can be about reskilling. In fact, they can be an effective route for social mobility and a means of escaping the multigenerational poverty trap.

I have seen with my own eyes, during a visit to JES Group engineering company in Port Talbot, the pride and skills that can be derived from an apprenticeship. It was a genuinely rewarding experience to see a local successful company develop an innovative apprenticeship programme that provides great local opportunities to local people.

The benefits to individuals, their families and the local community is clear to see, and so it’s not a shock to see it as a top priority in Welsh Government’s recently published economy strategy.

What was a shock was to find out that just a week later, Welsh Government was proposing the biggest cut to apprenticeships since the beginning of devolution.

Mere weeks before National Apprenticeship Week, we learned that there will be an estimated 24.5 per cent reduction in funding for the Welsh Government’s apprenticeship programme. To put this into real terms, this will result in 10,000 fewer apprenticeship starts this year.

Set this against the fact that approximately 80 per cent of small firms in Wales struggled to recruit in the past 12 months due to skills shortages, this couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Of course, this matters all the more when we consider the backdrop what else is happening in Port Talbot.

As we reel from the devastating news of almost 2,500 job losses at TATA Steel, the focus must be on re-training and re-skilling. We cannot hope to attract the investment necessary and benefit from the opportunities provided by the Renewable Energy Industry and the essential drive to a Net Zero economy, without a highly skilled labour force. Skills Academies such as the one launched by the JES Group in Port Talbot, amongst other apprenticeship schemes, will play a crucial role.

Cuts to apprenticeship funding in this context is incredibly short sighted on the part of the Welsh Government – I hope that National Apprenticeships Week will serve as a reminder that we need to build on, not tear down this vital sector.

Mae hyn yn dechrau gyda chi

Ganddyn nhw mae'r arian, ond gennym ni mae'r bobl. Os yw pawb sy'n ymweld â'r wefan hon yn ymuno â'n symudiad yna does dim na allwn ei gyflawni.