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Educ8 Training Group advocates for apprenticeships in the face of potential budget cuts

Welsh Government’s final budget 2024-25 will be published on 27th February. Ahead of this, Educ8 Training Group, a leading provider of training and apprenticeships in the UK, is striving to showcase the substantial value and worth that apprenticeships offer workplaces and the Welsh economy.

Latest figures from the Welsh Government show a growing appetite for apprenticeships in Wales, with an increase of more than 20% in the number of apprenticeship learning programmes started in academic Q3 2022/2023 compared to the same period the previous year [1]. Educ8 has also been witnessing a consistent upward trend for apprenticeships in Wales, serving more learners than ever before.

This increase in apprenticeship enrolment has a positive impact on the country’s professional workforce. It helps to develop the infrastructure within businesses that can bolster the Welsh economy, as well as delivering on the Welsh Government’s Young Person Guarantee to support those aged 16-24 in securing further education, training and employment. The potential cuts Wales is facing will undermine both of these aspects of apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships are a unique pathway to learning that have untold benefits for the apprentices themselves and employers. Able to jump straight into a working environment, learners can start developing valuable hard and soft skills immediately, without taking on any student debt. These skills are directly related to the role they are in, giving them confidence in the workplace and providing employers with exactly what they need to address skill gaps. Apprenticeships play a pivotal role in nurturing professional development and resolving the ever-changing needs of Wales’ workforce.

Paul Stevenson, People Development Manager at Parkdean Resorts, says “The news that there could be a 24.5% cut in funding for apprenticeships in Wales, has come as a huge surprise to us.

Over the last few years, we have been working closely with our Welsh providers to develop our people at all levels of our business; from new people joining us to the advancement of our managers, enabling them to acquire further knowledge, skills, and behaviours to support their career.

Being able to offer apprenticeships in our recruitment enables us to attract people to our business and support them through an apprenticeship programme. Apprenticeship development is a key part of our succession planning that provides people with lifelong knowledge and skills to develop their careers, as well as using these skills in other aspects of life.

This proposed cut could potentially undermine how we recruit and develop our people in Wales in the future.”

Welsh Government is facing huge challenges in the landscape of its funding, and it is anticipated that the upcoming policy statement on apprenticeships will reveal that due to a 3.65% budget cut and loss of previous European funding, the apprenticeship programme will be cut by 24.5% in 2024-25.

Inevitably, these cuts will lead to a significant drop in the number of apprenticeship places that can be offered throughout Wales. The National Training Federation for Wales (NTFW), of which Educ8 is a member, estimates that it will result in 10,000 fewer apprentices over the next two years, of which 5,500 are expected to be in health and social care. These reductions would disproportionately harm young people (aged 16-24), especially those who are women, live in socio-economically deprived areas and are from ethnic minority backgrounds.

With a wide number of fields now available to study, the demand for apprenticeships is expected to increase again next year. Providing qualifications such as Social Media for Business and Digital

Marketing, Educ8 has first-hand experience of how these apprenticeships are being used to fill the ever-growing demand for digital and technology skills.

Its new Energy and Carbon Management qualification, which covers modules including energy procurement and analysis of energy consumption is also playing an important part. With the introduction of this training, Educ8 is witnessing how apprenticeships can pave the way to a more energy-conscious economy and significantly contribute to achieving the government’s net zero target.

Speaking on the value of apprenticeships, Grant Santos, CEO of Educ8 Training Group said: “Apprenticeships are needed to answer the challenges of the modern world and prepare society for the jobs of the future. High-quality apprenticeships like those offered by Educ8 can improve the economic prospects of Welsh workers and help to create a skilled workforce, and that is why it’s so important we advocate for the value of apprenticeships to the Welsh economy and maintain the level of investment in this flagship programme.”

If you are an employer whose business has seen significant benefits from apprenticeships, you can make representations to Welsh Government by emailing the Minister for Economy, Vaughan Gething at Correspondence.Vaughan.Gething@gov.wales.

For more information on the range of apprenticeships and qualifications offered by Educ8, visit the apprenticeships page.

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