Hayley Pells, IMI Policy Lead, highlights importance of apprenticeship funding for Wales to sustain its position in the UK automotive sector
Recent debate in the Welsh Government focused on the impact of the UK autumn statement on cost-of-living pressures. While acknowledging the efforts made to alleviate financial burdens through tax cuts and wage increases, the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), which champions the people who work in the sector, believes it is critical for the Welsh Government to recognise the potential of apprenticeships as a catalyst for economic growth and personal prosperity. In particular, IMI Policy Lead, Hayley Pells, believes that Wales can gain significantly from a sustained investment in apprenticeships in the Welsh automotive sector.
“The motor industry, a cornerstone of the UK economy, offers a multitude of high-skilled, well-paid career opportunities”, explained Hayley Pells. “Apprenticeships in this sector are not just pathways to employment; they are gateways to developing the advanced skills needed in an increasingly technological industry. However, the recent concerns expressed by Luke Fletcher MS regarding the expected decline in apprenticeship starts and the potential reduction in funding are alarming.
“A cutback of 24.5% in the apprenticeship program, leading to 10,000 fewer starts, represents not just a loss of opportunity for aspiring professionals but also a significant step back in our collective efforts to build a robust, skilled workforce. This is particularly critical in the motor industry, where the evolution of technology and the shift towards greener energy solutions necessitate a constant influx of skilled professionals.”
The IMI believes it is crucial that the Welsh Government and stakeholders reconsider the proposed budget allocations. “We are calling on the Welsh Government to re-examine its spending plans concerning apprenticeships”, added Hayley Pells. “We believe, through a collaborative approach, engaging industry partners and educational institutions, apprenticeships, particularly in the motor industry, can be adequately funded and prioritised. This is essential not only for the growth of the industry but for the economic and social well-being of our communities.
“The Institute of the Motor Industry stands ready to support this endeavour, offering our expertise and resources to develop high-quality, industry-relevant apprenticeship programs that align with the needs of our evolving sector. Together, we can create a future where skilled professionals drive the motor industry forward, contributing significantly to the economic fabric of Wales and the UK.”
Luke Fletcher MS, Member of the Senedd for South Wales West, said that the recent cuts to the Welsh Government’s apprenticeship budget undermine their recently announced renewed economic priorities.
“Not only does the Welsh Government’s economic mission lack necessary detail, it’s also undermined by their own decisions in the budget process. The development of Wales’s future workforce is absolutely essential if we want to see the Welsh economy prosper, and as we navigate tough economic terrain, the Welsh Government must invest where it matters.
“Investing in apprenticeships is an investment in the future workforce and industries of Wales. It’s an investment in opportunities for young people, in our economic recovery and in key sectors. The Welsh Government’s cut to the apprenticeship budget runs counter to their expressed desire to provide more opportunities for young people.
“Together with industry, training providers and further education colleges, I call upon the Welsh Government to reverse this decision.”