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National Apprenticeship Week: Economy Minister urges businesses to take on an apprentice

Wythnos Genedlaethol Prentisiaethau: Gweinidog yr Economi yn annog busnesau i recriwtio prentis

A young man with additional learning needs who is particularly passionate about ice hockey, is helping community sport clubs in north-east Wales boost the number of people taking part in sport by becoming an apprentice sports coach, thanks to the support of the Welsh Government’s shared apprenticeship scheme.

As the annual National Apprenticeship Week gets underway, Economy Minister Vaughan Gething is encouraging more firms to consider how an apprentice can help them boost their businesses.

Taking place between 6-12 February 2023, National Apprenticeship Week is an annual week-long celebration of apprenticeships and the value they bring to employers and learners across Wales.

Apprenticeships are a vital part of the Welsh Government’s Young Person’s Guarantee, which provides under 25s in Wales with the offer of support to gain a place in education or training, find a job or become self-employed.

For the 2022/23 contract year Welsh Government has committed £148.6m to apprenticeship delivery, with the goal of reaching 125,000 all-age apprenticeships in 2026/27.

The Welsh Government, in partnership with Grwp Llandrillo Menai, Achieve More Training, Ap-prentis, is providing support for community sport clubs in north Wales to recruit and train a local young person in the role of a community sport coach, as part of a shared apprenticeship programme.

The rollout of the new shared apprenticeship model in north Wales includes a scheme in Community Sports that plans to get more children and young people participating in sport through their local sports clubs.

Following its reopening at the end of 2022, the Deeside Dragons Ice Hockey Club and Aura Wales has provided a shared apprenticeship opportunity for a young man with additional learning needs, who is helping to increase local participation in ice hockey and ice skating.

Michael Speare is very passionate about playing ice hockey and is visiting schools in the area as an ambassador for the sport.

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said:

“It’s been a real pleasure to meet Michael and to learn more about his work at Deeside Dragons Ice Hockey Club. He is the perfect ambassador for the sport.

“I’m delighted our shared apprenticeship scheme is providing new opportunities for young people who cannot find permanent employment to learn new skills in the workplace, helping them gain new qualifications that will enable them to secure and sustain full-time permanent jobs.

“At the beginning of Apprenticeship Week, I want to encourage people and employers across Wales to see how apprenticeships can make a real contribution to their futures.

“Quality all-age apprenticeships are proven to unlock higher earnings in better careers. They can help futureproof, motivate and diversify a workforce – offering people the chance to gain high-quality vocational skills. They are also crucial to our ambitious vision for a Wales where no one is held back.”

Mike Welch, Chief Executive of Aura Wales, said:

“Michael’s role as a Club apprentice, working under the mentorship of James Parsons, Aura’s Junior Ice Hockey Head Coach, has enabled us to both re-engage with young people and to attract new players to the Club. This has been achieved across a variety of different settings such as school taster sessions, off-ice coaching and Aura’s Learn To Skate programme.

“What was a pretty bleak future for the Junior Ice Hockey Club due to the pandemic is now looking really positive. We can see growth and progression to the Club and Michael is playing a really important role in supporting this. The level of growth we have experienced would not have been possible without the apprenticeship scheme and Achieve More Training.”

Jordan Hadaway, Shared Apprentice Co-ordinator Achieve More Training, said:

“I really believe that this shared apprenticeship scheme between the sports clubs and ourselves at Achieve More Training will help the clubs be able to go that extra mile and let them deliver and make an impact in the communities more than they have ever been able to.”

The additional funding will be used to maintain a focus on technical skill priorities, the needs of the foundational economy and high demand sectors such as Health & Social Care and Childcare and to contribute towards our net zero ambitions.

Shared apprenticeships have been delivered over the last five years, initially in Engineering and Construction sectors in the Valleys Taskforce area in south Wales. The programme was redeveloped in 2022 and expanded across all regions of Wales and other sectors including the creative industries and theatre, and sport and leisure.

The target cohorts for shared apprenticeships are sectors with low take-up of apprenticeships, SMEs new to apprenticeships, disadvantaged young people and underrepresented groups.  

A supported shared apprenticeship has been introduced to specifically enable disabled people with complex learning and employment needs to access an apprenticeship.

Notes to editors

A Shared Apprenticeship is where apprentices are employed by an employing organisation that is responsible for the recruitment, employment and welfare of the apprentice who completes their apprenticeship at host employers who are not able to offer a full-term apprenticeship but are able to offer the on-job learning required by the apprenticeship framework.

Shared Apprenticeship support is primarily for:

  • employers in sectors with evidenced skills shortages/gaps and/or low levels of apprenticeship starts;
  • SMEs who are unable to employ an apprentice on a full-time basis; and 
  • young people (16-24 yrs. old) from disadvantaged and/or under-represented groups with evidenced barriers to accessing apprenticeships.

During the last Senedd, the Welsh Government exceeded the commitment to deliver 100,000 apprenticeships - and this continues to a top priority that will be supported despite the economic crisis facing Wales and the rest of the UK. The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

Picture caption:  Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething with apprentice Michael Speare.