Over 60 employers from across Wales have joined together to call for funding for the Welsh Government’s flagship apprenticeship programme to be protected, to ensure the economic prosperity of Wales.
In an open letter, employers say that cuts to the apprenticeship programme announced by the Welsh Government on 19 December 2023 will have a devastating effect on apprentices, employers, and communities, signalling very challenging times ahead for the FE and work-based learning sectors. It could mean 10,000 fewer apprentices able to start next year, with the reductions falling disproportionately on young people, and those in the lowest socio-economic groups.
ColegauCymru has previously highlighted concern about the impact of potentially reduced budgets across both apprenticeships and the wider FE offer.
Reacting to the Welsh Government’s draft budget, David Hagendyk, ColegauCymru Chief Executive, said,
“As Wales navigates turbulent economic times, colleges are the skills engine needed to drive our economic recovery, and future inward investment mustn’t be damaged. The draft budget is a huge gamble for Wales’ economy and communities. The Welsh Government must think again and reverse the catastrophic decision to cut the apprenticeship programme.”
Further education colleges are fundamental to a fairer, greener and stronger Wales, but they need sustainable funding to be able to support learners and to deliver for employers. The combination of the cuts to the apprenticeship budget and reductions in funding elsewhere means there is a perfect storm facing the sector as a result of the proposals in the draft budget.