From education to employment

Wales’ training providers make progress on parity of esteem mission

Lisa Mytton, a year of achievements for the NTFW.

The strategic director of a federation of training providers in Wales believes real progress has been made with the Welsh Government in the past year towards achieving its goal – parity of esteem for work-based learning.

Lisa Mytton, from the National Training Federation for Wales (NTFW), says the Welsh Government is listening to the views of independent work-based learning providers who hold the key to achieving Economy Minister Vaughan Gething’s ambitious target of 125,000 all-age apprentices by 2027.

Successes for the NTFW during the past year include securing a five per cent cost of living increase in funding bands from the Welsh Government last December. Another five per cent increase for work-based learning providers has just been agreed for the new contract year beginning on August 1.

“In collaboration with CollegesWales, we went to the Welsh Government at the end of last year to present evidence of the pressure that the cost of living crisis was having on our work-based learning providers in terms of staff recruitment and retention,” said Lisa.

“The five per cent increase in the value of contracts for our members from August 1 provides clarity, helps providers to plan better and is a very positive move in terms of driving the apprenticeship programme forward.”

The Welsh Government has also relaxed eligibility restrictions for people signing up for apprenticeships in Wales, making it easier for employers to recruit or upskill existing employees.

“The Welsh Government has listened to the evidence we produced about the eligibility criteria for apprenticeships and the relaxation of restrictions will be a massive boost to the network,” added Lisa.

Reviewing the year since she was appointed by the NTFW, Lisa selected the launch, in March, of the federation’s strategic plan for the next three years as a significant milestone.

The plan, ‘Developing the future workforce of Wales’, pledges to work collaboratively to shape and deliver inspiring vocational qualifications that benefit learners and employers and support economic growth.

True to its word, the NTFW has been collaborating with CollegesWales in discussions with the Welsh Government to present a united front for post-16 learning. The two organisations are now also working together to review apprenticeship frameworks.

The NTFW is keen to develop a good working relationship with and influence the Welsh Government’s new Commission for Tertiary Education and Research (CTER), building on the strengths of the work-based learning sector to meet future challenges and opportunities.

The new organisation, which has recently appointed Simon Pirotte, OBE, as chief executive, begins its transition in September before launching next April.

“My journey with the NTFW has been a really positive one,” said Lisa. “My key objective is to achieve parity of esteem for work-based learning providers with other post-16 education providers.

“I have developed a very good relationship with Welsh Government colleagues and I meet with Economy Minister Vaughan Gething to discuss not only targets and objectives but also the challenges and barriers faced by our network of providers.

“The Minister and the Welsh Government are listening, which was also demonstrated by Levels 2 and 3 Health and Social Care learners being given an extended period of 19 months to complete their apprenticeships due to the access problems they experienced during the pandemic.

“In addition, the Welsh Government has continued to provide £1 million to providers for this financial year to support the health and wellbeing of learners.

“Since the pandemic, there has been a big increase in the number of learners with mental health issues. Some have transitioned into the world of work without having the necessary tools to do that and our network has had to provide a wraparound service to meet these needs.”

Lisa’s future priorities for the NTFW are to further strengthen the relationship with the Welsh Government and CTER and continue the collaboration with CollegesWales, which has produced mutually positive results.

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