The news that the Welsh government was committed to boosting apprenticeship funding has been welcomed by business groups in the principality
Director of CBI Wales Ian Price said closing the country’s identified the skills gap as “the most important factor in driving up our nation’s lagging productivity”.
“Welsh Government should continue to listen to the concerns and ideas of the Welsh businesses who will be doing their best to make the new system work,” he said.
“In addition to a continued increase in the quality and quantity of apprenticeships, the test for success is if firms believe they have clarity and confidence in the Welsh skills system.”
Price also committed to helping with the strategy, saying “Business stands ready to work with the Welsh Government to ensure the new apprenticeship system delivers for the future and from the outset.”
‘Skills gap a major challenge for Wales businesses’
Meanwhile, President of the South and Mid Wales Chambers of Commerce Liz Maher said the announcement would “go some way to addressing the skills gap that our members regularly raise with us as one of the major challenges facing businesses in Wales”.
“We have been calling for increased investment in higher-level apprenticeships for some time,” she said.
“Our members have been telling us that they need people trained to this level and we are pleased that the Welsh Government is listening.
“It will also support Welsh businesses operating in key high-growth and emerging sectors like ICT, engineering and financial services, as well as boosting the earning potential of apprentices after they qualify.
“We will be working with our members to make sure that they are aware of how they can take advantage of the opportunities offered by apprenticeships, to ensure that their businesses have the skills they need.”
That sentiment was echoed Jeff Greenidge, who, as chairman of independent policy and research organisation the Learning and Work Institute Wales welcomed the news. However, he had words of warning for those in the Welsh Government who felt the scheme should be a largely public-led project. Business, he said, must be offered an integral role in future of apprenticeships.
“Apprenticeships should be a worthwhile experience that encourages individuals to progress within employment,” he said.
“With high quality and accessible apprenticeships that meet the needs of Welsh employers, Wales can upskill its workforce for the uncertain economic times ahead.
“This apprenticeship policy will only benefit individuals and employers if they are of a high quality and accessible to all who wish to pursue this path.”