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Stronger Futures Cymru: Opportunities for all

Scrapping the age restriction on Labour’s jobs scheme, providing greater flexibility within apprenticeships and boosting collaboration between education and business; the key components of an innovative policy launched today by Welsh Conservatives.

 

Aimed at ensuring Wales provides opportunities for all, ‘Stronger Futures Cymru’ would boost access and prioritise job creation for anyone of working age.

 

Apprenticeships and job-based learning play a vital role in developing an individual’s skills for the future whilst simultaneously helping businesses expand. They can kick start careers for younger people and enable those who are older the opportunity to retrain and follow a different path, whilst earning and learning at the same time.

 

The new policy will be launched this morning at Concrete Canvas, a manufacturing company in Pontypridd.

 

 

Welsh Conservatives would:

 

Scrap the age cap and extend job duration

Labour’s ‘Jobs Growth Wales’ was heavily criticised in a recent independent evaluation and Welsh Conservatives would enhance it with the innovative and inclusive ‘Journeys to Work’.

 

The current 16-24 age barrier would be scrapped, with the new scheme open to everyone, of all ages. The current six month job duration would also be extended to twelve months.

 

The scheme will also open up its opportunities for those involved in the UK government’s Work Programme, who are currently barred from taking part. This new approach would ensure everyone can access opportunities.

 

 

Introduce greater apprenticeship flexibility and boost promotion

At present, take-up of apprenticeships remains low in Wales, with just 1.62 per cent of school leavers entering employed training in 2014.

 

We would work with businesses, schools and colleges to better promote apprenticeships to students.

 

To ensure apprentices receive a well-rounded experience of their chosen industry, we would introduce the option of ‘sandwich’ placements. Where possible, an apprentice would spend half their time with a smaller business and the other half with a larger one, to ensure they gain versatile, hands-on experience in their chosen fields.

 

 

Strengthen the ties between education, employment and the local business community

Welsh Conservatives would encourage schools across Wales to increase their engagement with local employers. Members from the local business community could participate on school governing panels to advise on how best to integrate “work ready” skills into the curriculum.

 

 

 

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies AM, said:

 

“Labour’s age cap on job creation offers nothing to the many thousands of older people that want to get on and build a career for themselves.

 

“Not only does this sell hardworking people short, it’s contributing to the acute skills shortage which is holding the Welsh economy back.

 

“A Welsh Conservative government would extend work based learning opportunities to people of all ages in Wales, whilst placing greater value on vocational qualifications which have been neglected under Labour.

 

“We will work with schools, colleges and businesses to promote the benefits of apprenticeship schemes - and our Journeys to Work programme will provide a sustainable, progressive path into the workplace.

 

“This will provide the groundwork for real, sustainable job creation – and economic growth.”

 

 

 

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for the Economy, William Graham, said: 

 

“Stronger Futures Cymru is an ambitious vision for apprenticeships in Wales and will help to ensure that Wales has a workforce equipped with the skills they need to drive the economy forward.

 

“After 16 years of a Labour-led Welsh Government, Wales continues to have some of the poorest education standards, highest unemployment rates and highest levels of welfare dependency of all the UK nations and regions.

 

“Businesses right across Wales are struggling to recruit highly skilled workers and as a result, our economy is struggling.

 

“That’s why the Welsh Conservatives are committed to raising standards and our ambitious plans will deliver the robust skills and training framework the Welsh economy needs.”

 

 

 

Notes to Editors:

 

 

Welsh Conservatives would enhance Jobs Growth Wales with Journeys to Work, a scheme that would offer Employee Incentive Grants to businesses – of approximately £3,000.

 

Journeys to Work would operate within existing budgets – and in tandem with the UK Government’s Work Programme.

 

Welsh Conservatives are already committed to boosted access to small business finance and an extension of business rates relief - scrapped for those with a rateable value up to 12k and tapered to 15. www.welshconservatives.com/policy

 

In July 2015, the Assembly’s enterprise and business committee recommended a job creation scheme for the over 50s in Wales, which the Welsh government rejected: http://www.assembly.wales/en/newhome/pages/newsitem.aspx?itemid=1489

 

 

An interim evaluation of Jobs Growth Wales was published in September 2014: http://gov.wales/statistics-and-research/evaluation-jobs-growth-wales/?lang=en

It concluded that 73% of people would have found employment without the scheme.