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‘Apprenticeships must play a key role to get economy moving’- Eluned Parrott

2013 Mehefin 11 12:00 PM

The Welsh Government needs to be doing more to raise the profile of apprenticeships and to simplify the system to widen access to them, according to Shadow Business and Enterprise Minister Eluned Parrott.

Between 2006/7 and 2012/11 the number of people on apprenticeship placements in Wales fell by more than 25%. The Welsh Liberal Democrats will be leading a debate this week in the National Assembly suggesting key ways to reverse this decline by overcoming the barriers that prevent young people from seeking and applying for an apprenticeship programme in Wales.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling for the Welsh Government to widen access to apprenticeships by:

  • Developing a school liaison programme to increase the prominence of apprenticeships in the provision of career advice to young people
  • Establishing an Apprenticeship Ambassador scheme to promote positive role models
  • Improving the visibility of competitions to celebrate excellence in skills
  • Trialling a UCAS-style single application process and clearing house system to improve the parity of approach between career routes
  • Creating a single information, application and support system to streamline information provision and reduce drop-out and disengagement rates

Eluned Parrott, Shadow Minister for Business and Enterprise, commented:

"Jobs and economic growth remain a priority for the Welsh Liberal Democrats which is why we are holding this debate tomorrow. We must get Wales' economy moving and apprenticeships will have to play a key part in that.

"We don't believe the Welsh Labour Government has been proactive enough in opening up access to apprenticeships to young people in Wales. Youth unemployment in Wales remains stubbornly high, it's therefore essential that we start equipping people with the skills needed to get themselves onto the employment ladder.

"In our debate we are highlighting the need to improve the perception of apprenticeships in Wales. Whether it is developing a school liaison programme, establishing an Apprenticeship Ambassador scheme, or improving the visibility of competitions to celebrate excellence in skills, the Welsh Liberal Democrats are putting forward practical ideas that would go a long way towards raising the prominence of available apprenticeship schemes.

"Whilst raising the profile of apprenticeships, we also need to be looking at how the system can be made simpler. A number of people have come forward to me and said that they have little idea how to actually enrol for an apprenticeship.

"We believe that the Welsh Government needs to create a single information, application and support system to streamline the process and reduce drop-out rates. We want young people to know they have a range of positive options on leaving school that will open up rewarding careers - be that through university or skills-based learning. The Welsh Liberal Democrats want to build a stronger economy in a fairer society.

"Youth unemployment in the UK was allowed to rise by more than 40% during Labour's thirteen years in office. This trend mustn't be allowed to continue. We need to be encouraging more new businesses to provide apprenticeships as they not only reduce recruitment costs and improve productivity, but are vital if we are to build the highly skilled workforce that Wales desperately needs."