From education to employment

Welsh colleges are meeting the transformation challenge

Welsh FE colleges are merging with other colleges, leading local consortia and partnering with schools, higher education institutions and training groups to secure better opportunities for learners and value for money.

“Colleges in Wales have given strong support to the Welsh Assembly Government’s (WAG) call to transform post-16 education across Wales,” says Dr John Graystone, chief executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, which represents all 24 FE colleges and institutions in the country.

One merger has already been finalised, and WAG is currently considering a further five proposed college mergers and three proposals for colleges to lead regional work-based learning consortia.

Dr Graystone says: “Developing each proposal is a huge undertaking requiring a lot of commitment and hard work on all sides. In forging a new world full of education partners rather than competitors, new structures and new ways of doing things have to be found – and put into action at the right time.”

One of these new ways involves improving opportunities for Welsh speakers, and ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is working on an “all-Wales” strategy to help colleges find “innovative ways to plan and deliver wider learning choices for Welsh-speaking learners not only within colleges but also jointly with other local providers”. The organisation is already in talks with the Welsh Language Board and hopes to move forward with its ambitious proposals in the new year.

Dr Graystone concludes: “Colleges are demonstrating that they are up to the challenge of the Welsh Assembly Government’s ambitious agenda to transform the post-16 education landscape in Wales.

“The Welsh Government has acknowledged that ‘great progress’ has been made over a short period. In order to put the proposals into action so that learners can see and feel the benefits of transformation, we need to continue apace in tackling key challenges with our partners, including on Welsh-medium education, and on establishing the professionalisation of the outstanding further education workforce.”

(Pictured: ColegauCymru / CollegesWales chief executive Dr John Graystone)

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