Helping Employers Navigate the Skills Landscape in Wales

Nearly half of all young people in Wales (48%) feel that the pandemic has harmed their long-term career prospects, with over a third (34%) saying that they are not confident that they will achieve their future career aspirations. This is why the CIPD has launched its ‘One Million chances Campaign’, which calls on the Governments and employers across the UK to do everything they can to create and support opportunities for young people. 

In Wales, matters over education and skills are devolved, and therefore the range of available programmes and support differs from what is available elsewhere in the UK. This can be challenging to navigate, especially for employers that operate across the whole country. Here we list some of the key devolved initiatives, with the relevant links throughout.

Young Person’s Guarantee

To support the Welsh Government’s aim to build an economy based on the principle of fair work and sustainable jobs, the Government launched the Young Person’s Guarantee, which aims to provide everyone under the age of 25 the offer of employment, education, training or self-employment.

Working Wales serves as the gateway into the Guarantee system and it will be officially launched in September 2021, offering a job matching service to assist young people with securing employment and help employers to fill vacancies. The site provides an overview of the support available, granting a would-be employer and employee a single website to find the offer which suits them. In addition, the scheme is further strengthened by the Regional Skills Partnerships, which invites national and regional employers and skills providers across Wales to connect with Working Wales so that projects form part of the offer.

Apprenticeship

One of the critical ways for employers to access funded support is through the apprenticeship system. Welsh Government have identified their priority sectors for apprenticeships in Wales, and it’s no easy task to navigate the numerous possibilities; assistance is granted through an Employer Toolkit. There are four different types of apprenticeship in Wales:

  • Foundation Apprenticeship: Foundation apprentices’ study towards qualifications equivalent to 5 GCSEs or NVQ Level 2 and often complete Apprenticeships and Higher Apprenticeships.
  • Apprenticeship: Apprentices gain valuable on-the-job skills whilst studying towards a nationally recognised qualification equivalent to 5 GCSEs (at A*-C), 2 A-Levels or an NVQ Level 3.
  • Higher Apprenticeships: Higher apprentices work towards a qualification equivalent to an HND/HNC or Foundation Degree
  • Degree Apprenticeships: By combining higher-level learning and employment, employers can develop their workforce, and apprentices can gain a degree simultaneously as building their careers and earning a salary.

Apprenticeships in Wales can be studied in English or Welsh, or even bilingually, depending on the employer’s needs and employee’s language of choice. There are business benefits to employers who use the Welsh language and providing a Welsh service to Welsh speakers can improve customer service. Increasing the number of apprenticeship courses being delivered through the medium of welsh or bilingually is a policy priority for Welsh Government.

Even though larger businesses in Wales (larger annual pay bill of £3 million or more) must pay the UK-wide Apprenticeship Levy, the way apprenticeships work and are funded differently across the UK. Most of the training will be carried out by the employer in conjunction with an approved training provider. The approved training provider is funded by Welsh Government to support the apprentice and provide the training, and the employer will bear the cost of the salary of the apprentice and any additional training; however, Welsh Government offers incentives (until 30 September 2021) dependent on contract hours:


30 hours a week or more

Less than 30 hours a week

16 to 24-year-olds*

£4000

 £2000

Aged 25 and over*

£2000

 £1000

Re-employment of redundant apprentices**

£2600

 £1300

*An additional £1500 will also be rewarded for each new apprentice with disabilities recruited. Further support is also available and can be found here with support through the Access to Work Programme.
**Businesses can re-employ apprentices made redundant between 23 March 2020 and 30 September 2021.

Kickstart Scheme

The Universal Credit system is not devolved to the Welsh Government, so businesses in Wales are eligible to benefit from the UK Government Kickstart Scheme. The scheme provides funding to employers to create jobs for people aged 16 – 24 who are long term unemployed on Universal Credit.

Employers of all sizes can apply for the funding, which covers 100% of the National Minimum Wage (or National Living Wage, depending on the employee's age) for 25 hours per week, including NI and Pension contributions for a total of 6 months.

The latest an employee can start on this scheme is 31 December 2021, which means you will receive funding for the employee until 30 June 2021. Further funding and support are available for young people on the scheme.

ReAct

This programme helps businesses recruit someone who has been made redundant or has become unemployed for another reason. ReAct can help you pay their wages and fund job-related training to sharpen skills. So you a business can secure the right person for the job and also reduce staff costs.

If you employ someone who is a resident of Wales and under formal notice of redundancy or within 12 months of the date of redundancy (or to be unemployed), you can benefit from £3000 in quarterly instalments for the first 12 months to cover their wages. With an additional £1000 for any job-related skills training that is needed to support your business.

The position on offer must be for 16 hours a week or more, paid at national minimum wage or above and last for 12 months.

Traineeships

This programme is for young people aged 16-18 to assist them in achieving their first job or progress to further training. Working with the trainee, you develop a training programme with the trainee and agree with them the days they will come in and how the training is delivered. Things can be adjusted as the programme goes along.

The programme will offer the trainee an allowance, and at the end of the traineeship, you might wish to keep them on and offer them an apprenticeship (see above) or another job opportunity.

This is available for any Business of any size, in any sector, as long as you’re based in Wales. You also need to be able to provide a substantial and meaningful work experience.

Go Wales: Work Experience Programme

Similar to the Traineeships programme above, this programme is tailored for students at Welsh Universities and provides them with the opportunity to provide valuable work experience.

It could benefit you by bringing onboard a bright young spark to your team as they learn the skills and knowledge of your business. The programme can highlight that your business is a socially responsible employer and could grant you an opportunity to employ talented new employees once they have graduated from university.

Employers of any size or sector can offer work experience which can be:

  • Meet the Professional’- A short meeting between a student and a professional in a role and/or industry of the student’s interest to help the student find out more about the position, career path and the skills needed for that role.
  • Work shadowing- Up to three days of unpaid work experience where the student observes someone in their role to understand how they do their job.
  • Work taster- Up to four weeks of unpaid work experience where the student can learn about work and the working environment by observing and undertaking some tasks.
  • Work placement- Four to six weeks of paid work experience where the student gets hands-on experience or works on a project. 

Flexible Skills Programme

If your business is looking to expand into new business opportunities or if the team lacks specific skills to run effectively, then the Welsh Government Flexible Skills Programme could help.

The programme offers skills in five different sectors and industries:

  • Digital Skills
  • Exporting Skills
  • Engineering and Manufacturing Training
  • Creative Sector Skills and Training
  • Tourism and Hospitality Skills

To be eligible, the business must be based in Wales, solvent and commit to releasing staff to undertake the requested training by the end of March 2022. Funding awards and edibility are discretionary, and upon completion of the expression of interest form, the final decision on eligibility rests with the Welsh Government.

Personal Learning Account

The Personal Learning Account Programme, launched by the Welsh Government, is designed to help businesses across the priority sectors to recruit new talent and overcome current and future skill shortages.

The programme will respond to employers' upskilling requirements and support employers for future skills and qualifications to help rebuild businesses during economic uncertainty.

Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF)

If your employees are trade union members, their union can deliver two to three-year training projects focused on improving their learning skills. The programme’s primary focus is to develop essential skills and enhance the employability of the workforce with an emphasis on removing barriers for traditional non-learners.

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