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BESA Calls Welsh Government’s Cuts to Apprenticeship Funding ‘Nonsensical’

BESA Calls Welsh Government’s Cuts to Apprenticeship Funding ‘Nonsensical’
21 December 2023 | Updated 04 January 2024
 

Helen Yeulet​ from BESA has reacted to the Welsh government’s decision to cut funding for technical apprenticeships by almost 25 per cent.

In collaboration with the National Training Federation Wales (NTFW) and Colegau Cymru, The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) is joining a campaign to have these “catastrophic cuts” reversed.

NTFW estimates that the reduced support, which is part of the Welsh government's new “Economic Mission" and includes lost funding from the European Union, would result in 10,000 fewer apprenticeship starts across Wales in 2024/25 – a drop of almost 50 per cent.

Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns also condemned the cuts as “shameful” and criticised the Welsh administration for prioritising spending on extra politicians over the additional skills needed to grow the economy.

The latest planned cuts follow a £17.5m reduction in the overall Welsh apprenticeship budget linked to “a perceived lack of demand for apprenticeships among employers”, despite the Welsh government’s own data showing an increase in apprenticeship starts in the first half of 2022/23.

“These cuts are nonsensical,” said BESA’s Director of Training and skills Helen Yeulet. “The Welsh government’s own 2021 evaluation highlighted the importance of apprenticeships to economic growth and improving career prospects for thousands of people.

“Current indications are that demand from employers will increase during 2023/24 across Wales, but if the apprenticeships are not funded there simply won’t be enough people to fill the roles just when the need for more skilled people is rising.”

Helen added that removing funding from apprenticeships was “astonishingly short-sighted” and pointed out that the UK government had just announced a £50 million fund to stimulate the uptake of apprenticeships in technical areas where there are shortages, including engineering, “because it recognises the need to increase diversity and freshen up the talent coming into technical professions that underpin economic growth”.

“This decision by the Welsh government is going in completely the opposite direction and the long-term implications are not hard to predict,” she said.

ColegauCymru and NTfW called on employers to get behind their campaign to “make the case for apprenticeships and ensure that catastrophic and irreversible damage is not done to the apprenticeships programme in Wales”.

BESA is urging anyone concerned about this issue to make representations to the Welsh Government and contact their local college or independent training provider to discuss how to help protect apprenticeships. They can also email the Welsh Minister for Economy, Vaughan Gething at: Correspondence.Vaughan.Gething@gov.wales

Picture: a photograph of Helen Yeulet. Image Credit: BESA

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 21 December 2023

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