The organisation that represents training providers in Wales has warmly welcomed a pledge by Plaid Cymru to create 50,000 new apprenticeships for young people over the next five years if the party wins power at May’s Welsh Assembly election.
National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) chair Peter Rees says he is delighted that Plaid Cymru recognises the value of apprenticeships to the Welsh economy and is committed to securing parity of esteem with university degrees.
Shadow Education Minister, Simon Thomas announced yesterday (Wednesday) that a Plaid Cymru government would use Wales’ share of the new apprenticeship levy to create the 50,000 additional apprenticeships over the next Assembly term.
The levy is expected to bring in around £150m to Wales each year as a result of increased spending in England, announced in November’s Spending Review.
He added that Plaid Cymru was committed to working towards ensuring that no young person in Wales is not in education, employment and training between the ages of 16 and 24, in order to improve prospects for the next generation.
Mr Rees said: “We very much welcome the policy announcement by Plaid Cymru about creating an additional 50,000 apprenticeship places. It is also pleasing that the party recognises that the benefits of apprenticeships and work based learning need to be fully explained and understood by schools and young people in order for them to make an informed choice about the different educational opportunities available to them.
“We believe this is vital to ensure that all young people follow the training or education courses best suited to them and their career and that government investment is spent in the most effective way.
“Research recently published by the NTfW shows that current investment in apprenticeships in Wales generates more than £1 billion a year for the country’s economy, which represents excellent value for money for the Welsh Government.
“The return on every pound of public money invested in a Foundation Apprenticeship and an Apprenticeship could be as high as £26 and £28 respectively. The overall success rate of apprenticeships in Wales is 84% compared to 68.9 % in England.
“We are currently seeking clarity on how the apprenticeship levy, announced by the UK Government, will work in practise and welcome all calls that this additional investment when received should be spent on creating additional apprenticeship places in Wales.”
The NTfW’s research, ‘The Value of Apprenticeship to Wales’, also revealed that:
- * Apprenticeships provide a £74 return for every £1 invested compared to £57 for the average degree;
- * * When lifetime earnings are considered, the value to individuals of achieving a Foundation Apprenticeship is calculated at between £48,000 and £74,000, while those achieving an Apprenticeship benefit by between £77,000 and £117,000.
- * * The typical cost of an undergraduate degree is at least £27,000 compared to between £4,000 and £16,000 for an apprenticeship.
Mr Thomas quoted the research when announcing Plaid Cymru’s future policy. “At present, 12,200 young people between 16-18 years old are not in education, employment or training in Wales,” he said. “They represent one in 10 young people within that age bracket.
“That is why a Plaid Cymru government would use Wales’ share of the apprenticeship levy to invest in 50,000 places over the next Assembly term. We believe that apprenticeships offer an equally valuable route into employment as university degrees and we are committed to securing parity of esteem between these two paths.
“This landmark investment in young people’s future would help boost prospects for the next generation, plug the skills gap in many vital sectors such as engineering and ICT, and improve the general health of the Welsh economy.”