Over 60 employers from across Wales have joined together to call for funding for the Welsh Government flagship apprenticeship programme to be protected, to ensure the economic prosperity of Wales.
In an open letter, employers say that cuts to the apprenticeship programme announced by Welsh Government on 19 December 2023 will have a devastating effect on apprentices, employers, and communities, signalling very challenging times ahead for the FE and work-based learning sectors. It could mean 10,000 fewer apprentices able to start next year, with the reductions falling disproportionately on young people, and those in the lowest socio-economic groups.
ColegauCymru has previously highlighted concern about the impact of potential reduced budgets across both apprenticeships and the wider FE offer.
Reacting to the Welsh Government’s draft budget, ColegauCymru Chief Executive, David Hagendyk, said,
“As Wales navigates turbulent economic times, colleges are the skills engine needed to drive our economic recovery, and it is critical that future inward investment is not damaged. The draft budget is a huge gamble for Wales’ economy and communities. The Welsh Government must think again and reverse the catastrophic decision to cut the apprenticeship programme.”
Further education colleges are fundamental to a fairer, greener and stronger Wales, but they need sustainable funding to be able to support learners and to deliver for employers. The combination of the cuts to the apprenticeship budget and reductions in funding elsewhere mean there is a perfect storm facing the sector as a result of the proposals in the draft budget.
Rachel Cable, Director of Policy and Public Affairs