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- Forthcoming policy developments
- Ongoing debates
Forthcoming policy developments
Qualifications Wales, the organisation responsible for regulating general and vocational qualifications in Wales, has launched a long-term strategy which aims to ensure that vocational qualifications meet the needs of learners, higher education providers and employers in a wide range of careers.
The strategy will feature a programme of reviews into qualifications in certain employment sectors. The proposed sequence of sector reviews is as follows:
- Construction and the built environment
- Information and communication technology
- Engineering, advanced manufacturing and energy
- Financial services
- Customer services and retail
- Travel and tourism
- Hospitality and catering
In February 2017, the Minister for Skills and Science launched the Welsh Government’s new apprenticeship policy and five-year action plan, Aligning the Apprenticeship Model to the Needs of the Welsh Economy.
The objectives which the Welsh Government intends to meet by 2020-21 include:
- improved performance measures for apprenticeships, including measures of employment outcomes
- clearer pathways into apprenticeships for 16- to 19-year-olds where opportunities/vacancies are openly promoted by employers to attract the best candidates
- increased awareness of apprenticeships by young people, parents and schools
- Increased integration and alignment between apprenticeships and further education delivery in technical and vocational subject areas for 16- to 19-year-olds.
The Welsh Government will focus on four priority areas:
- increasing the number of apprentices aged 16-19 by increasing the take-up of quality apprenticeships amongst school leavers
- addressing skills shortages by developing apprenticeships particularly in growth and emerging sectors such as ICT, engineering, construction and financial and professional services.
- developing higher level skills by focusing on apprenticeships at level 4 and above where returns tend to be higher
- developing skills pathways by integrating apprenticeships into the wider education system and making it easier for someone to enter into an apprenticeship from another learning route.
No progress plan or review has been released at the time of writing. (September 2020)
Internet safety strategy
In 2017, the Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper was released, which set out proposals to tackle unacceptable behaviour and content online. Since then, the Government’s period of consultation and responseto the Green Paper, as well as the 2018 Digital Charter set out to create a more regulated and safer online experience in the UK for all. The Charter states an investment of an additional £7 billion in research and development by 2021/22, delivering major upgrades to the digital infrastructure, and states the government will introduce a new statutory duty of care enforced by an independent regulator to tackle harmful online content. A National Data Strategy is also expected to be established.
The UK left the EU on January 31st 2020 at 11pm, beginning the transition period that is set to end on December 31st 2020. Anupdate on the website of the Erasmus+ UK National Agency states that:
under the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the EU, the UK will continue to participate fully in the current (2014-2020) Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps (ESC) programmes. This means that the projects successfully bid for during the current (2014-2020) Erasmus+ and ESC programmes will continue to receive EU funding for the full duration of the project, including those where funding runs beyond 2020 and the end of the transition period. As a result, the UK government guarantee of EU funding will no longer be required and the Erasmus+ and ESC guarantee IT system has been closed.
Additional updates have been published on theErasmus+ site
In a speech on 11 November 2016, the Welsh First Minister said
Post Brexit, we need a higher education system that allows institutions to continue to collaborate freely and to work together across Europe and the globe. A system that allows our students to travel and study in other countries and ensures Wales continues to be a welcoming place for those from abroad to learn and to work.These collaborations must continue. We will work with universities to make sure that these bridges are maintained and strengthened in years to come.
The First Minister also set out the Welsh Government’s key objectives for negotiations with the UK Government and the EU Commission. These included:
- to agree reciprocal arrangements regarding student tuition fees so that Welsh students studying in the EU pay local student fee levels and EU students studying in Wales are treated as UK students for the purpose of fees and the costs of study
- to participate in the post-study work visa scheme currently being piloted in four English universities
- to participate in the ERASMUS+ scheme of staff and student exchange
- greater outward mobility by students and staff studying and working in Welsh universities.
In an effort to alleviate the impact on children’s education resulting from the extended closure of schools due to COVID-19, the Welsh government will provide an additional £29 million to schools to boost support for learners at crucial stages in their education from September.
The equivalent of 600 extra teachers and 300 teaching assistants will be recruited throughout the next school year, targeting extra support at Years 11, 12 and 13, as well as disadvantaged and vulnerable learners of all ages. This will support learners taking their A level and GCSEs in 2021 and those known to have been affected most. This targeted action is hugely important to the futures of these young people.