Tag: Education and Skills

Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee – Stakeholder Introduction Event

The newly formed Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee of the National Assembly for Wales recently welcomed stakeholders to Cardiff to participate in an introduction event.

The purpose of the event was to give stakeholders the opportunity to meet new Members of the Committee and to speak to them about their priorities and aspirations for the Committee.

Individuals from organisations such as Careers Wales, Federation of Small Businesses, Arriva Trains Wales, Network Rail and Colegau Cymru arrived at the Senedd to view the Committee’s meeting first of all. This was an opportunity to see the Committee Members question the new Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates AM and to listen to his priorities and the content of his portfolio.

Following the Committee Meeting, stakeholders and Committee Members met at the Urdd Centre, where an event under a ‘speed-networking’ format took place.

Everyone were allocated to a table with people from different sectors and Assembly Members from the Committee.

There were discussions during the event around different aspects of the Committees remit.

They discussed that the Committee needed to look into various options for taking forward changes to business rates and also need to consider city regions, their purpose and what levers will they be given to succeed.

Discussions around transport included looking into the Government’s preparations for the next Welsh Rail Franchise and considering what improvements have been made to integrated public transport.

When discussing skills questions were raised around whether Wales is training the right people for the right skills. There was also a discussion around the Welsh Government’s budget reduction to Careers Wales and the impact of this on their role and remit.

The Committee will now take into consideration the points raised during the event in order to inform and shape their work for the next five years.

If you’d like further information about the Committee, or would like to keep up to date with their work, you can visit the Committee’s webpage.

You can also follow the Committee on twitter @SeneddEIS

Employment opportunities for people over 50

Back in November 2014 the National Assembly for Wales’ Enterprise and Business Committee decided it would undertake an inquiry into employment opportunities for people over 50 in Wales.

It can be difficult for people who are over 50 to find a job, especially one which uses all their skills. The Committee decided to look into what can be done about this because people are living longer and pensions are getting smaller. The majority of people are working longer and by now it is not required for people to retire when they are 60 or 65 years old.

As well as asking outside organisations, academics and the public what they think by asking them to respond in writing the Committee also visited representative organisations to discuss the inquiry with them.

The Committee visited staff members from John Lewis in Cardiff, NIACE Cymru, Working Links, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, Wales TUC and Pembrokeshire County Council on 12 February 2015. Discussions were held around barriers that people over 50 face when looking for a new job. Are there any stereotypes about the employment of people over 50, how can they can be tackled and whether there is anything the Welsh Government need to do to support and promote employment for people over 50.

Some of the barriers discussed during these visits were the lack of funding for training opportunities and the lack of things like IT skills. You can see read more about these discussions on the Committee’s webpage here.

Here, Rhun Ap Iorwerth AM tells us about his discussion with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board Human Resources staff.

As well as visiting representative organisations the Committee also spoke to individuals during their meetings at the Senedd, including the office of the older people’s commissioner for Wales and representatives from Age Cymru and Prime Cymru.

The Committee have published their report which includes recommendations on things the Committee thinks the Welsh Government should do to make it easier for people over 50 to find employment. One of the things the Committee have recommended that the Welsh Government do is to hold an ‘Age Positive’ campaign to encourage employers to employ people over 50. With the older people’s commissioner the Welsh Government should also have a campaign which will increase the number of work placements and apprenticeships for people over 50. The Committee also recommend that the Welsh Government should write a skills strategy for people over 50 which says how they will help those people get the skills they need to get a job.

You can see a copy of the full report or a summary report here and you can view press coverage from the report launch below by clicking on the images.

BBC NEWS#

ITV NEWS

GUARDIAN

The Committee will be speaking to the Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology during the autumn term to ask what she will do about their recommendations.

For updates please follow @SeneddEcon.

Co-investment and mobilising a productive and skilled workforce in Wales

April 2015 saw the Welsh Government begin to implement its framework for co-investment in skills. This framework changes the way in which training, skills and apprenticeships are funded in Wales.

The new approach to investing in skills means that the total cost of training, in cash terms, is shared between two or more people. For businesses or individuals who employ apprentices or offer work-based training, the change means that they must increase their financial contributions to meet the cost of skills training in their workforce.

William Graham AM, Chair of the Enterprise and Business Committee

Expecting to be fully implemented by 2017, the Enterprise and Business Committee wanted to find out how this would impact Welsh businesses and training providers. Would the new framework help meet the Welsh Government’s aim of “ensuring that Wales develops a competitive edge in mobilising a productive and skilled workforce”?

The Committee held business breakfasts, in both North and South Wales to explore these issues further. The first meeting took place in Brains Brewery, Cardiff with a variety of representatives from the academic, business and training sectors.

Gwawr Thomas, Creative Skillset Cymru talks about taking part in the event and explains the importance of co-investment in skills within the creative industries:

Participants discussed the need to consider the different levels of financial support available to a variety of businesses who may be operating on different scales. Increased investment from employers may mean that those businesses then select candidates who have experience – which could see them neglect young candidates which would see the policy work against the Welsh Government’s aim.

Dylan's, Menai Bridge - Anglesey
Dylan’s, Menai Bridge – Anglesey

The second breakfast meeting took place in Dylan’s Restaurant, Anglesey with local training providers and business representatives. Iwan Thomas, the Regional Skills and Employment Lead for the North Wales Economic Ambition Board was one of the invited guests.

One of the key messages he wanted to get across was for the Welsh Government to consider a regional approach to co-investment, and how they should be taking the change forward:

Having held both business breakfasts, the Enterprise and Business Committee sent a letter of recommendations to the Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James AM to consider in relation to the policy change. You can read the letter of recommendations here: http://bit.ly/1fzxrp1

Sharing good practice in scrutiny (2)

Outreach Manager Kevin Davies explains…

Welcome back! My first blog entry set the scene and explained how and why Swansea Council’s Scrutiny Committee came to visit the National Assembly for Wales to discuss ideas around public engagement in scrutiny.

In it I explained that wanted to explore ways of encouraging more people to take part in committee work, be it to help the Assembly scrutinise the work of the Welsh Government, or to help local council scrutinise the work of council leaders. We share the same challenge…sometimes we don’t hear from the variety of people would like to.
To read my first blog entry click here.

In this blog entry I’ll explain how we at the Assembly try to overcome this issue, and reference examples and case studies.

Consultation toolkit

I was really impressed by Swansea Council’s openness to ideas, and their desire to engage the public in the work they do. I appreciated some of the concerns that they had (that I’m sure every other public sector organisation shares) around having the time, effort and resource to do it properly. As a public sector organisation, this is something we at the Assembly also have to consider, and it shapes the types of activity we can offer and deliver.

A few years ago we produced our consultation toolkit (PDF 5.82MB). The toolkit is a list of engagement methods which have been used by the National Assembly and have been evaluated after use, with strengths, weaknesses suggestions of lead in times, costs and other considerations. It lists the different things the Assembly’s Outreach team can deliver when helping committees find more people to take part in a consultation. The toolkit includes a lot of different options, ways of gathering people’s opinions (evidence) including things like focus groups, events, filming video interviews, web-chats and surveys.

Finding people from different backgrounds, and hearing their perspectives helps Assembly Members understand the issues and the impact they have on people’s lives. Better informed Assembly Members (or councillors for that matter) leads to better scrutiny and better policies, so the value of engaging a broader group of people in this process shouldn’t be undervalued.

This video shows Rhun ap Iorwerth AM and Julie James AM talking about taking part in a web-chat with students on the subject of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Skills in Wales as part of committee scrutiny:

This video shows people who took part in video interviews for the Enterprise and Business Committee’s inquiry into youth entrepreneurship:

You might think that doing these things cost a lot of money. Using Google Hangouts to run web-chats is totally free. If you want to film video interviews with people in your area, an iPad will set you back about £200, which you can use to film people in high definition, and you can use an app called iMovie to edit the footage. A survey can be designed, published and promoted for little cost, using Facebook, Twitter and other channels. We have recently been promoting an inquiry into Supply Teaching in Wales through paid promoted Facebook posts which cost us £50 over the course of two weeks. This post (to date) has been shared 117 times and 39 comments made on the post.

Finding participants

Consider is who you see/work with on a day to day basis through the activities/services your organisations provide day to day. At the National Assembly we have communications staff which sees people coming into the Senedd, going into schools, colleges and youth clubs, and community groups across Wales to explain what the Assembly does and how they can get involved. We have used these interactions, things we do on a day-to-day basis, to explain issues  being discussed at the National Assembly at the moment, and provide people with direct opportunities to have their say on these topics.

When we find people to take part in engagement activity for committee consultations, we regularly contact charities, voluntary organisations, representative bodies and community groups. Local councils deliver a wide variety of services to different groups of people so engaging with these existing groups could be a very quick and easy way for councils to broaden the range of people who could contribute to their scrutiny work. Something we tried for the Human Transplantation Bill inquiry was leaving leaflets at GP surgeries, targeting people with specific needs in a specific area.

Feedback

One of the areas that the crew from Swansea Council were really interested in was how we feedback to people who have contributed throughout the process. We showed some examples of how we’ve done this, such as this  .

Committing to feeding back to participants is really important, or you could undo all the good work done during engagement activity by leaving people without updates on what their involvement lead to. At the Assembly we are currently looking at how we communicate with the public, particularly how we communicate the work of committees. As part of this process we will be considering how we keep people informed about the process of an inquiry they have taken part in, and what platforms (be it by using video, Storify or simply an e-mail) we should use when doing this. Piecing together the customer journey seems to be an area both Swansea Council and the National Assembly are looking at at the moment, and hopefully we can work together in doing this. Watch this space.

That seems like a good place to bring this blog entry to a close. The next entry will look at the planning process, and how this work happens behind the scenes at the Assembly to make all of these engagement opportunities possible.

#Youthjobs

Transport, lack of skills to enter the workforce, issues with work experience, careers advice, and lack of signposting towards things like apprenticeships are just some of the things young people said when discussing the barriers that exist when they are looking for work.

The National Assembly for Wales checks how the Welsh Government spends money, and what effect their policies are having on the people of Wales. One of the National Assembly’s committees, the Enterprise and Business Committee has looked into the challenges that young people face when they are trying to find a job.

Young people for all over Wales took part in video interviews with the National Assembly’s Outreach team, which were shown to the Assembly Members on the Committee.

The Committee also held an event in Swansea where they spoke with front line staff who work with and support young people on a daily basis, told the Committee what they felt the issues were and how they could be addressed.

Here are some pictures from the event:

 Two participants in discussion at the event in Swansea.  Three participants in discussion at the event in Swansea.

Four participants in discussion around a table at the workshop in Swansea.

For more images see our Flickr album.

After the event the Committee spoke with people at official meetings at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay.

The Committee have produced a report which they have sent to the Welsh Government. The report includes recommendations on things the Committee thinks the Welsh Government should do to make it easier for young people find work.

This video shows what young people told us, and the recommendations the Committee has made to the Welsh Government:

You can also read a summary of the report here (pdf, 184KB)

The Welsh Government will need to respond to the Committee’s recommendations, and the Committee will be keeping an eye on what progress they are making in delivering some of the changes suggested in the report.

How to get involved and keep up-to date with the Committee’s work

Assembly People: Apprenticeship Week

Our apprentice Lori with a member of HR in the Assembly library
Our apprentice Lori with a member of HR in the Assembly library

Apprenticeship Week celebrates the positive impact apprenticeships have on individuals and businesses.

Lori Nicolls, apprentice with our Communications team, talks about her experience…

Recently, I visited my former school, Blackwood Comprehensive in Gwent as part of the ‘Apprenticeship Ambassadors’ scheme working with the Welsh Government’s Department for Education and Skills.

I was thrilled to be chosen, and I couldn’t wait to give my talk to the students on my experience of being an apprentice and working in the National Assembly for Wales. Apprehensive, but armed with my notes, I spoke in front of 200 year 10 students.

Before leaving school, I wasn’t sure what career path I wanted to take, so after applying for numerous jobs with no luck, I was surprised to see that there were apprenticeships available in business and media, as I had always thought apprenticeships were for more traditional courses like hairdressing or construction.

In February 2013, I was pleased when I managed to secure a position as an apprentice at the National Assembly, and was placed in the Communications department. My role varies daily, which is what I love about my job. Some days I’ll be focusing on social media, creating and drafting tweets to engage with the public, other days I may be helping my colleague in planning or hosting events, or some days I may be working on the Assembly’s publications.

With more and more employers asking for experience, an apprenticeship really is the best of both worlds. You learn whilst earning, whilst gaining invaluable experience.


The apprenticeship programme is funded by the Welsh Government with the support of the European Social Fund.

From butchery to baking, engineering to electrical or hospitality to HR there is a huge range of apprenticeship frameworks available for young people across Wales.

For more information about becoming an apprentice, please visit www.careerswales.com or call 0800 0284844. Also find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/apprenticeshipscymru  and on Twitter @apprenticewales

The Curriculum in Wales – over 1000 young people have their say!

Over the summer the Assembly spoke with over 1000 children and young people across Wales to capture their views on the curriculum, qualifications and assessments.

Through a survey which was promoted at summer events like the National Eisteddfod and Royal Welsh Show, young people were given an opportunity to tell us what skills and subjects should (or shouldn’t!) be taught in schools, how careers advice could be improved and what they thought about the Welsh Baccalaureate.

Assembly Outreach Bus

An amazing 1177 young people responded, from every region in Wales! The results have shown that financial literacy, politics and modern business languages (like Chinese) should be taught more in schools, and only 29% of respondents felt that what they were currently being taught in schools, adequately prepares them for later life and finding a job.

Once published, the survey results were shared with Assembly Members and the Assembly Committees. The Children, Young People and Education Committee shared the findings with Professor Graham Donaldson, who is leading the Welsh Government’s Review of the Curriculum and Assessment in Wales, and wrote of his gratitude in bringing the statistics to his attention.

Summer Event

The results were also considered by the Enterprise and Business Committee, as part of the Inquiry into Assisting Young People into Work. Parts of the inquiry focus on careers advice young people receive in schools, and the results highlight what a number of young people told them through video evidence – namely, that careers advice needs to be improved in schools to help young people decide how to go about finding work and getting the skills they need to do that.

Bethan Jenkins AM

Finally, Bethan Jenkins AM spoke recently spoke in a Plenary debate, about her desire to improve financial literacy skills in Wales. She would like to do so by asking the National Assembly to consider her Financial Education and Inclusion (Wales) Bill. The purpose of this law would be to promote financial literacy in the Welsh population by making it part of the school curriculum. She was able to use these results to successfully argue for the Bill’s consideration.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who took part in the survey, and for taking that opportunity to have their say!