From education to employment

Case Study for Justice Training in Wales Sees Proud Partnership

While the Welsh Assembly remains the devolved government of Wales and is able to act autonomously of Westminster in areas such as health, transport, and rural affairs, it remains constrained by British legislature in the area of Justice.

General issues concerning justice, whether they be the prevention of crime, or the detention of criminals have historically fallen under the remit of the Criminal Justice System, which acts across the UK as a whole (although some powers have been conceded to the Scottish Executive). However, education and training is a fully devolved matter in Wales and is overseen by Jane Davidson, Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning at the Welsh Assembly. It is therefore hardly surprising to see links between the education and training aspects of the justice sector and the Welsh Assembly government strengthening rapidly.


Responsibility for the funding, planning and promotion of all post-16 education and training in Wales falls under the jurisdiction of Education and Learning Wales (ELWa). ELWa is a Welsh Assembly Public Body established under the Learning and Skills Act 2000. In 2001 it took over the majority of the functions of the four Training and Enterprise Councils and the Further Education Funding Council for Wales, assuming the above mentioned duties.

However, the body’s powers were diluted in the field of higher education, which were instead conferred upon another organisation, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW). The HEFCW is an Assembly Sponsored Public Body that is responsible for the funding of Higher education in Wales. It has a range of responsibilities, from the administration of funds to the provision of prescribed courses of higher education at further education institutions. In addition to these obligations the Council acts as an advisory body to the Welsh Assembly on matters relating to the needs, aspirations and concerns of the higher education sector in Wales.

Under the Umbrella

Currently the justice sector employs just over 25,000 fulltime staff in Wales, accounting for 2% of the working population according to figures published by the ONS (Office for National Statistics) in the summer of 2003. The majority of these individuals work under the umbrella of the police force, which forms part of the wider UK police service, while 2,000 work in the judiciary and the magistracy and another 4,500 are involved in community justice. It is in this last area that the Welsh Assembly is able to exert the most influence.

Edwina Hart oversees issues in relations to community safety, youth crime, substance misuse and the work of the voluntary sector. It is her responsibility as the Assembly Minister for Social Justice and Regeneration to take forward the Assembly’s agenda for creating safer communities in Wales. She has a £100 million Crime Fighting Fund in her arsenal allocated to combating crime, the fear of crime and substance abuse.

The challenge of identifying and addressing skills requirements of the sector against the backdrop of a politically-driven agenda from both UK Government and the Welsh Assembly Government has made for a steep learning curve for the Skills for Justice Wales team since its launch in 2004. Nick Skeet, Skills for Justice Wales’s manager, commented: “The need to create a modern community-focused service has generated a huge impetus at all levels to address skills issues and develop a truly professional workforce.”

He went on to add: “We have used that impetus to establish a robust strategic steering group of key justice sector employers to help drive our work and get buy-in from all corners of the sector. There is a proud tradition of partnership working and making the best of limited resources in Wales. We see this as the perfect opportunity to build on those traditions by bringing together like-minded people who really want to make a difference for the communities they serve.”

Michael de la Fuente

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