From education to employment

Vaughan Gething and Young Person’s Guarantee

Vaughan Gething, Welsh Economy Minister

As a Welsh Government, we made a commitment that no one would be held back or left behind as a result of the pandemic, in a recovery that is built by all of us.

That commitment led to the creation of our Young Person’s Guarantee – the offer of work, education, training or business start-up help for all under 25s.

The scale of our ambition is matched by the scale of our investment. We have committed around £1.4 billion a year to deliver the Young Person’s Guarantee, and have set aside a further £63.56m to directly support the guarantee and to offset the loss of EU funding for 2024-25.

Long Term Vision

In the long-term, our aim is to ensure 90% of 16 to 24-year-olds in Wales are in education, employment, or training by 2050.

This, I believe, is the route to a stronger and fairer Welsh economy, where everyone is supported to fulfil their potential.  

We are taking wide-ranging action, tailored to the needs of everyone facing barriers to work. Support, which is designed to reduce the number of unemployed adults and to tackle economic inactivity – helping everyone, including all those who feel a long way from the labour market.

We are committed to working closely with our partners across FE and work-based learning sectors, as well as with businesses and others to ensure the successful roll-out of the Young Person’s Guarantee. Our apprenticeships programme is supporting the Young Person’s Guarantee by encouraging employers to recruit young people and prioritising apprenticeships for 16 to 24-year-olds.

I want to thank everyone working in these sectors for your commitment and determination to ensure young people have the skills and experience they need to fulfil their potential. Diolch !

New Programme: React+

We recently launched React+, a new programme which will provide practical and bespoke employment support as unique as the person looking for work. 

The programme will offer:

  • Up to £1,500 for training
  • £4,500 to help with childcare costs and
  • £300 for travel costs.

We will also provide employers with wage and training support during the first year for newly employed staff.

We will invest £13m a year in ReAct+, giving those that need it most a clear pathway into work via the Working Wales employability service.

To be eligible for ReAct+, people must:

  • Be under formal notice of redundancy or
  • Have been made redundant or unemployed within the last 12 months or
  • Be aged 18 to 24 and not in education, employment or training or
  • Be ex-offenders or offenders serving their sentence in the community.

By focusing on people who are under-represented in the labour market and on those who face disadvantage and inequality in accessing work, we will create a more equal Wales.

We are also investing £8m to continue employment services, helping people recovering from physical, mental ill-health and substance misuse into work and crucially, to remain in work.

The Out of Work Service and the In-Work Support Service help people to rebuild their lives – and I am pleased to confirm that this support will be extended until 2025.

We want a Wales where more talent is unlocked and where young people are supported to turn their business ideas into reality.

Wales is a great place to start a business, and I want to see a new culture of inspiring and innovate entrepreneurship develop here.

That’s why our new Young Person’s Start-Up Grant will see us invest £5m to support 1,200 young people to start their own business.

Up to £2,000 will be available for young people who are unemployed or have left education or training to become self-employed.

This help is backed by one-to-one business advisory support, mentoring and financial management, allowing young entrepreneurs to take those exciting first steps.

I am looking forward to seeing the dynamic new ventures our support will help to create.

If you are under 25 and considering starting a business, you can visit Big Ideas Wales to find out how to make the most of the support available.

Broken promises from UK Government

The UK Government has broken its promise to replace in full the funding Wales would have received from the EU. 

We will be more than £1bn worse off as a result, which has serious implications for our budget.

We have traditionally used EU funds to finance these crucial work support programmes.

They are essential to the long-term health of our economy and we know that by backing young people today, we are helping to boost their future earnings and career chances – a key part of our mission to make fair work a reality for more people.

As businesses struggle with shortages, we are prioritising programmes which help ensure more people can find and keep a job with support that matches their circumstances.

Taking action to prevent youth unemployment and tackle economic inactivity means more talent for businesses to hire as they rebuild for the long term.

Pandemic’s Impact on the Labour Market

The impact of the pandemic on the labour market has not been as severe as we feared, with a strong rebound in hiring.

But, as we look ahead, we face many challenges – high vacancy levels, shortages in key areas; an ageing population and more people leaving the labour market early because of ill health, especially among the over-50s.

There is unequal access to the labour market for black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, for disabled people and single parents. And we still have pay gaps for gender, ethnicity and disability to overcome.

And we are facing an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis, affecting not just families but businesses too.

The programmes I have outlined are of course only part of our wider support for a fair work economy that tackles those barriers.

I recently launched a new retail strategy, developed in partnership with trades unions and businesses. And earlier this year, I confirmed £13m for the Wales Union Learning Fund – a hugely successful partnership that has offered so many working people a second chance at learning.

Alongside local authorities, Business Wales played a central role helping businesses at the peak of the pandemic. The service also exists to help inspire entrepreneurs and ensure smaller businesses in particular access the information and support they need.

Broken promises on post EU funds recklessly put this work at risk. I have prioritised this service, providing more than £40m to extend the backbone of Business Wales up to 2025 – two years beyond the end of EU funding support.

We will continue to do all we can to support people through these turbulent times as well as striving for a successful Welsh recovery, built by all of us.

By Vaughan Gething, Welsh Economy Minister

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