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Lilly Philips

Independent report published on the future of vocational qualifications

Adroddiad annibynnol wedi’i gyhoeddi ar ddyfodol cymwysterau galwedigaethol

The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, has today welcomed the publication of an independent report following a review of vocational qualifications in Wales, commissioned by the Welsh Government.

The review forms part of The Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.

The Review of vocational qualifications in Wales: report makes 33 recommendations for the Welsh Government and other organisations.

It will help determine the next steps in the potential expansion of the range of made-for-Wales vocational qualifications to meet the future needs of learners and the economy in Wales.

Vocational qualifications are practical qualifications that relate to a specific job or career sector. Unlike A-levels, they combine a mix of theory and practical learning, often with work experience as part of the course.

Jeremy Miles said:

“This report is an important step in ensuring learners have the qualifications they need to flourish and progress.

“I am committed to ensuring there is equality between vocational and academic routes of learning in Welsh education.

“Improving the delivery and range of made for Wales vocational qualifications will be vital in ensuring we meet the future needs of the Welsh economy, while providing our students with opportunities to gain the skills and qualifications they need.”

Employers and students attended an event in Merthyr College today to celebrate vocational qualifications and launch the report.

Speaking at the event was the Chair of the review, Sharron Lusher, who said:

“I have seen the difference that vocational education and training has made to the lives of so many people. 

“I hope this review acts as a catalyst to raise the prominence of vocational qualifications in Wales and encourages everyone to consider vocational education when making decisions about their futures.”

The report acknowledges what is already good within vocational qualifications and the way they are delivered, based on the evidence provided, but recommends change where it is needed. 

It considers the vocational landscape in the UK as well internationally and recognises the importance of strong support from employers in both developing and delivering vocational qualifications.

It recommends increasing the number of vocational qualifications available through the medium of Welsh or bilingually.

Designated Member Siân Gwenllian said:

“I would like to thank Sharron Lusher for this comprehensive review which is an important contribution to realising our aspirations for reform of the qualifications system.

“As the report recognises, vocational qualifications are one piece of a wider jigsaw. Fundamentally, this is about people and ensuring they have every opportunity to realise their potential whichever path they take which in turn will help realise our country’s collective potential.

“Ensuring we have vocational qualifications to address the needs of Wales will make a significant difference to both our learners and the future of our nation.”

Notes to editors

Case studies:

Lilly Philips

Former Afon Taf High School pupil Lilly Philips joined The College Merthyr Tydfil in 2021 to study on their BTEC level 3 Engineering course. As part of her course, Lilly applied and was successfully awarded the Panasonic Trust Future Engineers Award, providing her with the opportunity to become one of the college’s Welsh Valleys Engineering Ambassadors. As part of this project, Lilly had the opportunity to get involved in a variety of engineering enrichment programmes, including going back out to her former school to work with pupils and employers on engineering projects. Lilly had aspirations to become an apprentice and during year 2 of her studies, she successfully applied and gained an apprenticeship with Tenneco, based in Merthyr Tydfil.

Speaking about her experience on her vocational course, Lilly commented “the opportunity to study on the BTEC Level 3 Engineering course enabled me to study a subject I am passionate about whilst gaining a valuable qualification. I got to experience so many new opportunities that I wouldn’t have known were possible, providing me with the skills and knowledge I needed to progress successfully into an apprenticeship.”

Luke Protheroe

Former Afon Taf High School pupil Luke Protheroe joined The College Merthyr Tydfil in 2018 to study on their BTEC level 3 Engineering course.

The opportunity to experience hands on practical engineering activities was fantastic and after only a few weeks he knew that this was definitely the career he wanted to pursue.

Luke was fortunate to be successfully awarded the Welsh Valleys Engineering bursary and being an ambassador gave him the opportunity to get involved in a range of college career pathway events, open evenings and other school transition events where he was able to meet and network with employers from across the sector and see first-hand some of the apprenticeship and employment pathways available.

One of the aspects he enjoyed the most was being able to go back to his former school to speak to year 10 and year 11 pupils and their parents about his experience studying on the BTEC L3 Engineering course with the aim of encouraging more pupils to choose this pathway when they leave school.

Speaking about his experience on the Engineering course, Luke commented “the opportunity to get involved and experience hands on practical activities on the BTEC Level 3 Engineering course enabled me to gain a real insight into the subject and further enhanced my desire to want to go and work in a career in this sector. The experience and knowledge I gained on the course really helped prepare me for my apprenticeship with General Dynamics.”

Level 3 IT learners participating in the Cyber College Cymru programme

Brandon Sullivan

Harri Linton

Carwyn Ahearne

Leah Pike

Ben Fowler

Iwan Davies

Brandon, Harri, Carwyn, Leah, Ben and Iwan are all studying on the BTEC Level 3 IT Enhanced course at The College Merthyr Tydfil. As part of their course, the learners have had the opportunity to engage in the Cyber College Cymru programme. Through this programme, the learners have access to a structured programme of skills workshops, challenges and briefings delivered by industry to help them gain the skills and knowledge they need to progress into a career in Cyber Security. Over the last year, working with Bridewell, Dŵr Cymru, Thales and the Cyber College Cymru, the learners have benefitted from access to technical skills workshops and had the opportunity to participate in a range of challenge days.

Speaking about his experience studying on the Level 3 IT course, Ben Fowler, former St John The Baptist learner, stated “the course is providing a fantastic opportunity for me to learn all about Cyber Security, gain an understanding of the industry and help prepare me for a career in this important and growing sector area.”