Business breakfast explores importance of apprenticeships to the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal
Major employers from across the Capital Region came together on Friday (10th March) in Cardiff’s City Hall to discuss delivering the skilled workforce needed to ensure future growth and prosperity.
Speakers from the City of Cardiff Council, Welsh Government and Cardiff and Vale College Group joined with a panel of leading employers to explore the skills implications of the £1.28bn Cardiff Capital Region City Deal.
A major theme for the Cardiff Capital Region is developing a skilled and employable workforce that is responsive to the needs of businesses, supports growth, enterprise and encourages new business to the region. Cllr. Phil Bale, Leader of the City of Cardiff Council discussed this and the importance of skills and the role of apprenticeships to support future growth.
Input from the Welsh Government looked at the future vision for apprenticeships in Wales including the Government’s commitment to a minimum of 100,000 quality all-age apprenticeships for developing both new and existing staff across the next five years. It also examined the imminent Apprenticeship Levy – a UK Government employment tax that is due to come into force in April 2017 for employers over a certain size.
This requires employers across public and private sectors to contribute towards the funding of new apprentices. It is expected to play a central role in building the Capital Region’s future workforce with the onus being placed on employers to maximise their amount of levy drawdown by employing apprentices in their organisation.
Cardiff and Vale College Group – as the largest provider of apprenticeships in the country and based in the heart of Cardiff Capital Region - then provided a practical perspective around how it is supporting thousands of business to recruit, employ and train apprentices.
Cllr Phil Bale, Leader of the City of Cardiff Council, said: “When people talk about the City Deal a huge part of the conversation seems to revolve around the Metro, but we mustn’t forget the importance of skills and apprenticeships.
“As large employers I think we have a responsibility to use the size and diversity of our organisations to create more opportunities for young people. And I have been clear that the Council must play a leading role. We have been working with CAVC to do just that, creating opportunities for 14 to 16-year-olds to join junior apprenticeship schemes.
“This is why we are working with partners to develop ‘The Cardiff Commitment’.
“The Cardiff Commitment will seek to encourage business in the city to do all it can to support the progression of young people into employment and training and the City Council will play a leading role. That is why we have committed to creating paid apprenticeship and trainee opportunities within the Council, giving young people the chance to get into work and a build a future for themselves.”
Thousands of businesses across the region are already embracing apprenticeships, including BBC Cymru Wales, Signature Living, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Capital Law – all of which were represented on an employer panel at the event to discuss the benefits of work based learners. Tidal Lagoon Power also joined the panel to provide the insight from a significant project for Wales that will generate thousands of skilled jobs. This hugely valuable panel provided a real insight into how diverse organisations are currently using apprenticeships and aim to involve them in their future growth plans for developing new and existing staff talent.
Mike James, Chief Executive of the Cardiff and Vale College Group, said: “Cardiff and Vale College Group – with both Cardiff and Vale College and ACT - is the largest provider of apprenticeships in the country. We are already working with thousands of employers across the region, Wales and beyond to provide high quality apprenticeships and demand from employers across sectors continues to grow.
“We believe in the strategic importance of apprenticeships and the vital role they can have in developing a new talent pipeline as well as upskilling existing workforces all to support business growth, and we are seeing more employers continuing to recognise this.
“The introduction of the new levy will no doubt further stimulate this interest as employers will need to think creatively around the best way to maximise their levy drawdown for best impact in their companies – something we can support them with. This in turn should see more apprenticeship opportunities and more jobs emerging for young people in our region”
The event was supported by the Welsh Government. Minister for Skills and Science Julie James said: “The Cardiff Capital Region City Deal represents an ideal opportunity to create jobs and improve economic prosperity throughout the region.
“Skills training and apprenticeships will have a more important role than ever before. This meeting presents an excellent opportunity to bring together all those who influence skills to examine how we achieve the City Deal vision for a skilled workforce that meets business needs and maximises the opportunities for apprentices to support growth.”
The event was sponsored by the Cardiff and Vale College Group – the largest provider of apprenticeships in Wales and recent winner of the Association of Colleges Beacon Award for Apprenticeship Promotion and Delivery in the UK – the highest recognition for apprenticeship delivery in a college in the UK. Cardiff and Vale College Group includes Cardiff and Vale College, ACT and the Apprenticeship Training Agency South East Wales City Region.