From education to employment

Anti-racist Wales 2030: a national vision

Multi-ethnic group of students using laptop together while discussing project in college library

At the Black Leadership Group’s annual conference, Make the Path by Walking It, on 21 March, Marian Jebb, Head of Post-16 Quality, Further Education and Apprenticeships, Welsh Government, will host a workshop exploring the progress made with Wales’ ground-breaking initiative to tackle racism. Here she gives an overview of the journey so far.

In June 2022, the Welsh Government published its Anti-racist Wales Action Plan. It was co-constructed with Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and organisations and it set out actions towards making Wales an anti-racist nation by 2030.

At the Black Leadership Group’s annual conference on 21 March, I will lead a workshop exploring how the Welsh Government is working with the further education sector, and partners including the Black Leadership Group, to make the vision a reality.  

Our session will aim to identify early lessons that could be transferrable to other contexts and sectors. Participants will discuss progress to date, the challenges involved, and help to shape future priorities and practical steps for establishing an anti-racist culture across all Welsh colleges.  

Real momentum

Since the Action Plan’s launch last year, we have taken a series of important steps on our journey. 

We commissioned ColegauCymru to work with the Black Leadership Group, to undertake an initial scoping review of anti-racist policies and practices in the FE sector. This review provided recommendations which are helping to inform our subsequent work on anti-racism in FE, and tailored guidance on anti-racism action plans will follow.

A new FE steering group was set up to advise on our work on anti-racism, chaired by Robin Ghurbhurun, Managing Director for Further Education & Skills at Jisc.  Jisc is affiliated with the Black Leadership Group, and Robin brings a huge amount of experience and knowledge to help support and challenge our work in this area.

Other steps include working with EWC (Education Workforce Council) to focus recruitment on individuals who are currently under-represented within the PCET workforce.

I feel there is real momentum now and a real commitment to anti-racism in Wales, particularly in FE.

A turning point for me was a roundtable discussion we convened to talk about anti-racism, and the statement by someone in that discussion that anti-racism benefits everybody, regardless of their own ethnicity or background. It is about everybody having that open-mindedness.

Something in my mind clicked. It was the idea that you shouldn’t be passive, but proactive. It’s about standing up to racism. It’s about calling out racism and not tolerating it. It’s about challenging your own position, particularly if you lack that lived experience.

Preparing people

It is important that further education is not just about the learning, the academic or vocational. FE is about preparing people to go out into the world, particularly young people.

And when our colleges are serving those communities that are not ethnically diverse, then perhaps this is even more important. Young people there may not be seeing an ethnically diverse community from day to day, but they may well leave that community at some point and work in other parts of the world. 

Anti-racism may, therefore, be a subject that doesn’t feel close to them, but that’s all the more reason to engage with it. The job of FE is not just to teach from an educational point of view, but to develop learners’ life skills and their ability to think clearly. It’s central to what FE is all about.

We’ve made a great start but there is still so much to do.

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