1. Questions to the First Minister – in the Senedd at on 20 February 2024.

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Photo of Russell George Russell George Conservative


1. How is the Welsh Government increasing apprenticeship opportunities in mid Wales? OQ60687

Photo of Mark Drakeford Mark Drakeford Labour 1:30, 20 February 2024

Llywydd, I thank Russell George for that question. The Welsh Government will continue to make significant investment in apprenticeships throughout Wales. Creating new opportunities in mid Wales relies upon promoting the benefits of quality apprenticeship routes to both employers and learners.

Photo of Russell George Russell George Conservative

Thank you for your answer, First Minister. Last week, I was pleased to congratulate Calum Greatorex, an apprentice working at Carpenter and Paterson Ltd in Welshpool, who recently won the apprenticeship of the year from Skills Academy Wales as a level 3 apprentice. It was also good to speak with Leighton Rowlands Jones and Spencer Roberts, also apprentices at the company. The company in Welshpool is well established. It's involved in the business design and manufacturing of products for industries such as power generation, renewable energy and nuclear, and the workforce is currently made up of approximately 12 per cent apprentices. It was also good to meet with Myrick Training Services, a not-for-profit company that helps to support businesses linked with apprenticeships, and also offers apprenticeships from level 2 through to and including level 5. They do have concerns with the Welsh Government's draft budget in regard to the proposed budget cuts in regard to apprenticeships. So, I wonder, First Minister, if you could outline what discussions you've had with apprenticeship providers about these concerns, because I'm sure you'll agree with me that we need to back apprenticeships in Wales in order to increase future talent as well, and success, such as in the story of Calum Greatorex.

Photo of Mark Drakeford Mark Drakeford Labour 1:32, 20 February 2024

Well, I thank Russell George for that, Llywydd, and, of course, congratulate the young people that he has referred to. It is great to hear of a firm that has 12 per cent of its workforce as apprenticeships, because they are, as he said, the young people who will be learning the skills that they will need for the future. And the Welsh Government will go on—we will spend over £400 million in apprenticeships over this Senedd term, and, in the next financial year, we will continue to invest £138 million, as you see in the draft budget. 

Now, of course, the Minister and the finance Minister have been listening carefully to the points that have been made by committees, including Russell George's committee, during the scrutiny process, and will be looking to see where there are any changes that can be made when the final budget is brought before the Senedd. But, as the Member will know, right around the Senedd there have been calls for additional funding for a whole range of purposes, and that has included apprenticeships. We continue to be in dialogue with all 10 providers—all 10 providers are active in mid Wales. Officials held a meeting with all 10 of them earlier this month in order to plan ahead and to make the very best use of the very significant investment in this important area that is still there in the budget proposals for next year.