Minister challenged to explain apprenticeship funding cuts

Banksy800 16-24 year olds in Clwyd South out of work

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology and Clwyd South AM Ken Skates has been accused of jeopardising the future of 800 young people in his own constituency following a £7m cut to the Government’s Apprenticeships and Young Recruits Programme.

Mabon ap Gwynfor, Clwyd South Spokesperson for Plaid Cymru, said the cut would deny young people access to essential training that could give them a greater chance of finding work. Mr ap Gwynfor also accused the Labour Party of turning its back on young people, with the news coinciding with Labour leader Ed Miliband’s announcement that he would penalise young people by removing their unemployed benefits unless they take up training.

Mabon ap Gwynfor said: “Labour’s Ed Miliband has said that he would remove young people’s unemployed benefits unless they take up training. Next thing we hear is a Labour Minister in Wales, Ken Skates, cutting £7m from young people’s training programme. 800 young people in Mr Skates’ own constituency are unemployed, and Mr Skates and the Labour Party have made things a lot more difficult for them to find work. Cutting the skills budget will prevent young people from accessing the training they need. The long-term cost will be severe, particularly when the Welsh Government should be rebuilding the Welsh economy.

“There’s no point in Ken Skates, the Minister in charge of these cuts, bleating about cuts to the Welsh Government grant from London. His own party leaders in Westminster have stressed time and time again that they would continue with the Tories austerity cuts. In addition, Labour in Wales refuses to take matters into their own hands and see Wales have greater tax-varying powers. It’s therefore their choice to be dictated to by a London Tory-led coalition..

“The cuts that he is making should be reversed and greater support should be given to the young unemployed.”

His calls were echoed by The National Training Federation for Wales, an organisation that represents more than 100 learning providers across Wales, who has called on Mr Skates to explain in detail why the Government has slashed £7 million from its flagship Apprenticeship and Young Recruits Programmes.

The National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), which has links to 35,000 employers across Wales, is concerned that the budget cut will reduce new Apprenticeship opportunities.

The organisation is asking why the Welsh Government is cutting funding for apprenticeships, which he and other ministers have described as the gold standard in vocational training for ambitious young people in Wales.