Our Programme for Government focuses on jobs, growth and skills as top priorities across our key industries with programmes such as Jobs Growth Wales offering new opportunities for businesses to recruit and train.
Yesterday, I heard about a very successful example of how the Welsh Government has been delivering these aims in one of our most important industries.
The Asset Skills’ Apprenticeships and Training Programme for the Welsh Built Environment has helped deliver skilled workers in facilities management, cleaning, property, planning and housing.
These industries have become an important part of the Welsh economy in recent years. Take for example Cardiff Bay, which has undergone a dramatic change over the last 25 years from a landscape dominated by heavy industry, shipping, cranes and warehouses, to one filled with hotels, offices, apartment blocks, bars and restaurants. None of these new buildings would function without the skills prevalent in the property services industry led by Asset Skills. These skills are critical if these industries are to become more adaptable for the future.
This Welsh Government funded project has recognised the skills gaps that existed in the sector, created solutions to address them and put those solutions into practice with exceptional results.
This is just one of many Welsh Government supported projects which have achieved great success in the field of skills development and training. Only last week I attended an event for the Delivering Low Carbon Skills project, held to showcase its achievements along with recognising the contribution made by project partners, beneficiaries, employers and training providers. The project, a partnership between the previously mentioned Asset Skills, ConstructionSkills, Energy and Utility Skills and Summit Skills, was designed to help enhance the evidence base for low carbon skills, as well as piloting a range of training to help businesses in Wales up-skill their workforce in order to take advantage of the growing demand for low carbon technologies. The project also met our commitment to support emerging low carbon skills and to ensure Wales possesses the workforce needed for a greener society.
It is also pleasing to hear that, not only have the Sector Skills Councils provided leadership to these projects, but their employers, and the training providers involved have all played a major part in the successful delivery.
We are also looking to use robust labour market intelligence to improve the information available for young people when they are making decisions about their future careers and to help identify the skill gaps in the economy. A good example of this was another collaborative project, involving LANTRA, IMPROVE, People 1st and Skillsmart Retail which looked to assess the supply and demand for vocational education and training across the Welsh food & drink supply chain. The report showed that whilst each part of the chain has its own unique challenges, taken in its entirety, the chain will provide solutions to these challenges. It will also release the untapped potential to the Welsh economy through providing new skills and, subsequently, new opportunities for workers from across Wales in one of the largest combined industries for employment in the country.
As I have made clear previously, this Government puts great store in apprenticeships and their value to apprentices and employers alike. Our policies are supporting new developments to make them even more valuable and accessible. We have developed new and groundbreaking approaches to meet both the needs of employers and the aspirations of apprentices.
I believe that a key to success is producing distinctly Welsh policies in support of specific economic sectors. The Sector Priorities Fund Pilot Programme which has funded all of these projects is a good example of this. It has provided investment into new apprenticeships, qualifications and training provision, plus extensive research in a variety of sectors across Wales giving us important feedback on how successful the projects have been in meeting employee and employer needs.
In my role as Deputy Minister for Skills I will strive to deliver more projects like these as well as ensuring our resources are being deployed efficiently and effectively. We need to grow the total investment in skills for the Welsh economy and, as these projects have shown, it must be a partnership between individuals, employers and government if we are to raise our ambitions for the future.