Some of the brightest and best of our local young apprentices met with Welsh Government Deputy Minister Julie James and Ogmore MP Huw Irranca-Davies this week at Pencoed Campus of Bridgend College, where they study while undertaking their apprenticeships.
The young men and women were engaged in a diverse range of apprenticeships including electrical engineering and veterinary nursing, manufacturing and construction, social care and much more.
The Deputy Minister Julie James and local MP Huw Irranca-Davies are determined to promote the status and prestige of apprenticeships, working with Bridgend and local employers to give more opportunities into skilled worked. Raising the awareness of apprenticeships as a great alternative route into well-paid and high-skilled employment is key.
Huw Irranca-Davies said, “Bridgend College works well with small and large employers to promote apprenticeships, and the Welsh Government has done so much to promote these opportunities. The Minister was keen to hear the ways in which our local apprentices think the route into an apprenticeship can be made easier, including through better and earlier promotion in schools alongside A-levels and university applications.
We also need to challenge lazy gender stereotypes, so it was inspiring to meet one bright young woman studying electrical engineering. We need to break down the barriers which put off women from pursuing careers and apprenticeships in areas like manufacturing and engineering, and which deter young men from careers in care and nursing for example. This is outdated thinking, and we should be aiming to realise the talents of everyone.
Apprenticeships are a great route into highly-skilled work and a long career, so my congratulations to Bridgend College and their students, and my thanks to Minister Julie James for ensuring that our Welsh Government keeps focussed on the importance of apprenticeships to our young people, and to our economy.”
The Deputy Minister said, “We are rightly proud of our apprenticeship system and of our thousands of talented and dedicated apprentices here in Wales. I’m particularly proud that Wales leads the way in the UK with apprenticeship completion rates remaining over 80%. This compares favourably with the equivalent rate in England of 69%.
“For too long though vocational learning has been seen as the ‘second best’ option compared to traditional academic routes. The Finance Minister’s announcement of an additional £5million means we can broaden the scope and reach of apprenticeships and expand our ‘earning and learning approach’ which we believe will help Wales remain internationally competitive.
“Jane Hutt’s announcement that funding for Further Education will be protected is also excellent news. It will help colleges to continue to provide opportunities for young people and adults to improve their knowledge and skills, whether they are progressing to further study, entering the workforce for the first time or learning new skills later in life.
“The jobs of tomorrow will require higher levels of competence than in the past. That’s why it’s important that Further Education and Apprenticeships are able to evolve to meet these challenges”.