Over 60 employers voice concern over potential cuts to apprenticeships

Updated 18/01/2024

Over 60 employers from across Wales have joined together to call for funding for the Welsh Government flagship apprenticeship programme to be protected, to ensure the economic prosperity of Wales.

In an open letter, employers say that cuts to the apprenticeship programme announced by Welsh Government on 19 December 2023 will have a devastating effect on apprentices, employers, and communities, signalling very challenging times ahead for the FE and work-based learning sectors. It could mean 10,000 fewer apprentices able to start next year, with the reductions falling disproportionately on young people, and those in the lowest socio-economic groups.

ColegauCymru has previously highlighted concern about the impact of potential reduced budgets across both apprenticeships and the wider FE offer.

Reacting to the announcement, Gower College Swansea's Chief Executive Officer, Mark Jones said:

“At the same time as colleges are looking to respond to the Welsh Government’s call to develop a stronger economy, it is disappointing that the budget for apprenticeships, being one of the key ways to achieve this development, is reducing. This is unfortunately, but inevitably, going to have an impact on some employers and some potential apprentices now not having the opportunity to develop their skills.”

Impact in Swansea

  • Since 2019, there have been 6,295 apprenticeship starts in the Swansea Council area.
  • These have been in a variety of sectors, from construction to management and 2,715 have been in the healthcare and public service workforce.
  • From January 2023 until the end of Sept 2023, there have been 1,400 starts within Swansea.
  • Within that number, 610 have been in the healthcare and public service workforce.
  • With an anticipated cut of up to 50% new starts in apprenticeship provision in the contract year from August 2024, this will have a severe impact on the number of new apprentices in the Swansea Council area.

Further education colleges are fundamental to a fairer, greener and stronger Wales, but they need sustainable funding to be able to support learners and to deliver for employers. The combination of the cuts to the apprenticeship budget and reductions in funding elsewhere mean there is a perfect storm facing the sector as a result of the proposals in the draft budget.