Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru

Yn ôl i Chwilio

Pwyllgor yr Economi, Seilwaith a Sgiliau

Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee

04/04/2019

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Bethan Sayed AC
David J. Rowlands AC
Hefin David AC
Joyce Watson AC
Mark Reckless AC
Russell George AC Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Ania Rolewska Swyddog Polisi, Swyddfa Comisiynydd y Gymraeg
Policy Officer, Welsh Language Commissioner's Office
Cerys Furlong Prif Weithredwr, Chwarae Teg
Chief Executive, Chwarae Teg
Dafydd Trystan Cofrestrydd ac Uwch Reolwr Academaidd, Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol
Registrar and Senior Academic Manager, Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol
David Hagendyk Cyfarwyddwr Cymru, Sefydliad Dysgu a Gwaith
Director for Wales, Learning and Work Institute
Jeff Protheroe Cyfarwyddwr Gweithrediadau, Ffederasiwn Hyfforddiant Cenedlaethol Cymru
Director of Operations, National Training Federation Wales
Kieron Rees Cynghorydd Polisi, Prifysgolion Cymru
Policy Adviser, Universities Wales
Lowri Williams Uwch Swyddog Polisi, Swyddfa Comisiynydd y Gymraeg
Senior Policy Officer, Welsh Language Commissioner's Office
Yr Athro Julie Lydon Cadeirydd, Prifysgolion Cymru
Chair, Universities Wales

Swyddogion Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru a oedd yn bresennol

National Assembly for Wales Officials in Attendance

Gareth Price Clerc
Clerk
Robert Lloyd-Williams Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Sara Moran Ymchwilydd
Researcher

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 9:31.

The meeting began at 9:31.

1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau
1. Introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest

Croeso, bawb, i Bwyllgor yr Economi, Seilwaith a Sgiliau.

Welcome, everyone, to the Enterprise, Infrastructure and Skills Committee. 

I'd like to welcome Members to committee this morning, and I move to item 1. If there are any declarations of interest, please do say so now. We do have apologies from Vikki Howells this morning, because Vikki is substituting on another committee, and other Members are due to be with us, but they've got some other commitments this morning, so they'll be joining us shortly. 

2. Papurau i'w nodi
2. Papers to note

I move to item 2. We have a couple of papers to note. We have one from the Secretary of State for Wales in regard to growth deals and a letter from Redrow. Are Members happy and content to note those papers? Thank you.

3. Partneriaeth Sgiliau Rhanbarthol: Darparwyr Hyfforddiant a Sgiliau
3. Regional Skills Partnerships: Training and Skills Providers

In that case, we move to item 3. This is the third week of our inquiry in regard to regional skills partnerships, and this morning we have a panel from the training and skills sector. I'd like to welcome our witnesses this morning. I'm very grateful for your time with us. Perhaps if you could introduce yourselves; committee know you, but, if you could introduce yourselves for the public record, that would be helpful. If I could start from my left. 

Thank you, Chair. Bore da, bawb. Jeff Protheroe, director of operations for the National Training Federation for Wales, NTFW, and we represent all providers delivering work-based learning in Wales. 

Hi, I'm Professor Julie Lydon. My day job is vice-chancellor of the University of South Wales, but I'm here today as chair of Universities Wales. 

Kieron Rees. I'm a policy adviser for Universities Wales. 

Lovely, thank you. Perhaps if I could ask the first question—how do you engage with the regional skills partnerships? What's your engagement? How do you engage with them? Who would like to take a start on that? 

Do you want to start on that?

Yes. We—. From a network perspective, we think—in fact, we know—we've got a very good strategic relationship with each of the three regional skills partnerships. In fact, as an organisation, we structured our whole governance system around the fact that we've got three regional skills partnerships in Wales. At a very strategic level, we have members of our board, our executive board, who represent the network on each of the RSPs in terms of their high-level steering groups, and increasingly as well the RSPs engage with our network through the various meetings and forums that we have—conferences et cetera as well. So, we've got, I would say, a good relationship with all of the RSPs. Clearly, each of them have a different set-up themselves, but we seem to think that we've got a good relationship at that sort of strategic level, and indeed at an operational level too.

And, before I move on, do you think that engagement that you've described is sufficient, as well?

More can be done. Clearly, with more resource from both sides of that fence, we could engage with the RSPs a great deal more than we do, and also as well the RSPs could engage a great deal more with ourselves. But that ultimately comes down to resources on the ground.

If you had more resources, how could those be used for better engagement? 

I think the main thing would be that we would have an individual sitting with and working with each of the regional skills partnerships to help inform them and advise them and guide them on the apprenticeship and skills landscape. 

09:35

So, it is similar—a slightly different arrangement. Obviously, universities engage with the three partnerships across Wales. The way that works does vary very slightly on each partnership. Usually, that's through a representative of the higher education sector of the universities that are geographically based in that region in some shape or form. The nature and scale of that does vary across the partnerships, and that might be something that, over time, we'd want to look at; I think that's probably unhelpful at the moment. Those individuals—we're very used to being collectively responsible and reporting back to our various constituents about the work that we're doing, so there's a sharing of knowledge.

The other thing I think, importantly—and you raised it too, Jeff, but we're already well connected into other organisations that are also part of that regional skills consideration, which may or may not be represented on the partnership boards. So, clearly, on a daily basis, you would find many staff and institutions' senior leadership teams and representative bodies like Universities Wales engaging with a whole variety of organisations that are about, 'Actually, how do we develop the skills base? How do we reflect what's needed for the future? And how are we anticipating, working with Governments both here and nationally in terms of Westminster and internationally, for inward investment for growth opportunities?'

So, if you are working internationally, working outside Wales, how does that impact on your work with the regional skills partnerships?

Well, clearly, some of our work is about exporting and it's about flying the flag and it's about, actually, the presence of Wales elsewhere in the world. But there's a repatriation of that relationships and entity work back into Wales. So, actually, people might be saying, 'We're looking at where we might base our operations globally', and, actually, we're part of that introduction. We would also work, and we do work, closely with Welsh Government—obviously now there's a Minister who has international development as their particular brief—looking at how you benefit from those relationships in terms of both strategically what the Government is thinking about for the future of Wales, the entities such as the regional skills partnerships being part of that, and how you feed in that information and collectively look at how you gather your wherewithal to seize those opportunities.

Have I missed something?

No, absolutely not. On a sector level, we also engage with the Wales employability and skills board, which actually is meeting this morning, which includes the chairs of the RSPs as well as representative bodies. And so we sit on WES, the employment and skills board, as a sector representative. Just to add to what Julie was talking about about how the RSPs often will reflect the kinds of work the universities are doing, if you look at the employment and skills plans that come out of the regional skills partnerships, they often will list priorities such as advanced manufacturing, energy, construction, health—these are all core parts of what universities are doing in Wales, and I think the plans and assets actually reflect where universities are working and where a lot of their focus is.

Okay. And, Jeff, in your paper, you mention a provider reference group and you mentioned that that works well.

Yes. Obviously, each of the RSPs is at a different stage of development and governance at the moment, which is not necessarily helpful, given where we are at the moment. However, if you look at the one that is more established, which is the regional learning and skills partnership in the south west and mid, not only do they have industry cluster groups, but they also have a provider reference group. And I think that's useful, because that, then, allows them to, if you like, take the views of the employers and test it with the providers, because, as we've identified in our paper, sometimes there is a conflict in terms of national contract and regional priorities—so, to test that and to make sure that we can actually deliver what employers want. Having spoken to the other RSPs as well, they're keen to adopt the same sort of model as well, and we stand by, as an organisation, to assist them in facilitating a conversation with providers to talk about some of the issues that providers are facing in order to deliver what employers want.

And I guess you're saying that that provider reference group, if that was in the other two regional skills partnerships, that's something that you would suppport.

Absolutely. We'd fully support that as well. And we're starting to make gains with that as well to assist the RSPs collectively to have a reference group.

I guess one other thing is that any way that you provide fora by which you are able to engage with consideration of both the medium and long term, as well as the short term, will have questions as to how effectively they can work and some limitations around that—we all have to recognise that. The geographical ones, there's no problem with them, but, for most universities, we don't work within that tight geographical boundary. So, for example, Cardiff, Swansea and ourselves collaborate hugely around the work we're doing in terms of energy, the carbon agenda, and we recognise, we're sensitive to, those regional agendas and the politics around that, but the reality is we would want to move seamlessly across it. 

So, I think that's the other thing about the joining up that I think is really important. And we wouldn't want to find that, actually, there was this boundary put, which has been a bit of a feature at the moment, I think it'd be fair to say. So, how do you move it outside that boundary so that, actually, it's able to think more holistically. 

09:40

Sure. Did you want to come in, Jeff? I want to move on quite quickly, but Jeff. 

Yes, just to support what Julie was saying, really, is that, in terms of apprenticeship provision, when providers are delivering to pan-Wales organisations, we've got to be careful that there's not too much disconnect between each of the RSB priorities as well. And I think with the advent of city deals—and I'm sure that may come up as well—there's a bit of a risk to that, particularly when programmes are funded on a national basis. 

Good morning, all. I want to ask particularly University of South Wales—in your evidence you seem to be suggesting that you believe its a challenge to be able to understand the future skills needs. Does it mean that you don't have any confidence in the partnerships' success in their Welsh Government contracted roles? 

I think it would be fair to say that I'm sure my academic researchers would say that you could never perfectly plan any of this. And there's no doubt there's huge evidence coming from all sorts of sources across the globe around the rate of change in terms of what the future workforce will look like. I've been on record as saying that primary school children now—the jobs that they will take are not even in our imagination. So, the idea that you can sit here now and say, 'I can completely predict that future and I know exactly what it'll be like', I think that's what we would challenge. And I think we collectively recognise—. You know, I'm from a generation where quite a lot of the digital technology that's being used, I personally struggle with a bit. So, actually, having me in the room as the person who says, 'Well, this is what will be the future'—which is why we would advocate having more young people and learners, potential learners, as part of these dialogues, because they are the people who are going to be our future. They're the people who are going to be in employment. They're going to be the people who are future leaders. And finding ways to recognise some of that ambiguity and uncertainty—it's not a criticism saying, 'Well, we shouldn't have RSPs and they're useless'. That's certainly not what we're saying. But I think it is a recognition that a notion that you can sit and perfectly plan and have absolute 100 per cent knowledge about this future has always been flawed, but is probably even more challenging now as we anticipate. And we're at the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution and I don't think anybody quite knows where that will go.   

The committee will be aware from the recent work you did on automation and artificial intelligence that the proportion of jobs deemed at risk, or that will change substantially, varies from report to report, from 14 per cent to 50 per cent. We don't know just how much change is going to take place in the workplace, so the idea that we can identify exactly what sort of subject-specific skills will be needed—it's very difficult to see how that would work. 

We also sometimes see a mismatch in the use of language around skills, because, when you look at most of the analysis of what we need in the future, people talk about things such as digital competency, problem solving, social skills, cognitive skills, whereas, actually, when you look at the kinds of skills that have been planned for in Wales, they're largely programme or qualification-specific. Whereas, actually, what we need to look at is not so much what the specific name of the programme is that people are studying, but what they are getting skills-wise from that programme.  

Okay. So, that being the case, what do you think a responsive and flexible skills system would look like?  

09:45

I think it's one that continues to try and, using a variety of sources, lay out a future landscape, but it is not so prescriptive that, actually, it's inhibiting both the innovation in the way in which organisations operate, employ staff and what they expect of their staff; nor is it so prescriptive that, actually, those of us that are involved with providing education and training are not able to reflect that ambiguity and change in the way that we look at it.

I think Kieron's point about the nature of what's expected—. I'll be honest with you, I think that most of our graduates find, almost as soon as they go into the workplace, that the bases of their knowledge have moved on so much. So, actually it is the ability to deal with that complexity and ambiguity and the ability for them to recognise actually where they need to get themselves updated. So, this notion of lifelong learning, which I think has often been associated with, 'Well, it's older people coming back to do a bit of learning'—actually, I think it's fundamentally what we will see in the future. So, actually, that would be something we'd expect the RSPs to be able to recognise. 

So, if it's flexible and it's moving fast, and we all know that that is probably the case, how does university provision align with the industry needs? And does it take any account of sector interests?

So, every university that I know of in Wales, and beyond Wales, has extensive partnership arrangements. That will be with Governments, with regional skills partnerships and they're different forms of entities, with employing bodies, with their representative bodies, with particular employers, with health boards and with professional bodies, and co-creation of curriculum is hugely common—way more common than I think most people outside higher education would realise. So, in the case of my university, virtually half of our curriculum is actually co-created. So, the idea of what it might be and what they're looking for is at the start.

I think, as importantly, the co-delivery and the co-engagement with those experiences is another really prevalent feature. So, in the same way that you would be working closely with an employer around, actually, 'What are those experiences—are they measuring up, as people are going through programmes, to what's expected?', for us, if people are doing three or four-year programmes, that's a long engagement and those are the ways in which we continue to assure that—. It's not perfect and clearly there is still work for us to do, but, generally, that's how we're able to say that those graduates are going out with the sort of higher level skills, cognitive skills and the ability to deal with complex decision making and the ability to think at a systems level and the ability to recognise where they need to be working with other people and the ways in which they work with other people. The multidisciplinary world is huge. So, I'm really confident in saying there's a lot of really good work. We've probably got some more that we need to do, but we're well on that path. Generally, we find we get really good engagement with all those agencies.

And in terms of how universities take account of the skills plans, it's actually quite interesting, as I touched upon earlier. When you look at the skills plans, often the priorities that the skills plans reflect are the things that the universities are doing. We'd happily provide case studies to the committee on, for example, the university-industry collaborations on areas such as energy, agriculture, cyber security and data science, if you wanted to see some practical examples of how that industry alignment takes place.

Sorry, Chair, can I just come back on Joyce's question briefly—is that okay?

I think there are two things that I picked up from the question there, Joyce, if I may. There was one about the robustness of the labour market information and LMI has always been a bit of a dark art. As Julie said, it's very difficult to forecast into the future. And I think there's a difference that people need to understand between labour market information and labour market intelligence. I think there's a role for RSPs to get that information and to get that data in order that we can make intelligent decisions about future planning. And I think there is a risk, because there is always a time lag between what the future wants and putting skills provision on at a time to meet when employers are recruiting, that decisions are taken elsewhere, and, you know, that big project could disappear, and we've seen that in Wales. So, there's always a risk there as well, but you certainly need labour market information. 

The other point of the question, then, in terms of how we get to a responsive and flexible skills system, I think it is really about trying to reduce any barriers between the employers and the providers. As Julie has alluded to, there are already discussions going on between providers and employers to identify their needs; that's happening within that apprenticeship systems as well. What we've got to be careful of is not having too many layers of organisations in that system, which stops that happening. I think the quicker we can get a provider speaking to an employer the better that responsive system becomes. 

09:50

The holy grail is learner progression through the curriculum and through low-level to high-level apprenticeships. Do you think regional skills partnerships enable that—that the current approach enables that?

I don't think the RSPs themselves as bodies will enable progression through the apprenticeship programme. That is clearly constrained by the fact of what jobs are available. Let's say, for example, you have an individual on a foundation apprenticeship studying and achieving at level 2, unless they are able to progress into a job role that allows them to achieve that level 3, then there is no progression route. However, and as we've seen, there is a move within apprenticeship skills policy towards higher level skills, level 3 and above. I think certainly what you see from the regional skills partnerships, employment and skills plans, and it's a point that Kieron makes as well, probably providers are already delivering in those sectors anyway. I think certainly what the RSPs are doing is identifying where there is an issue between the foundational economy jobs and the needs of that sector and the higher level skills.  

The foundational economy doesn't necessarily have to be lower level skills. 

Absolutely. And I get that, absolutely. 

So, are you saying that whatever the regional skills policy would be, we are constrained by the fact that the labour market isn't structured in a way that would mirror a progression process?

Yes, and also as well if you look at the product of apprenticeships in terms of the way that the apprenticeship isstructured, what we see is that at level 3 they generally tend to have some element of supervisory skills within that. So, unless an individual is in a supervisory role, it is going to be difficult for them to achieve that apprenticeship framework. That's the other thing to consider: apprenticeships are jobs. People seem to think they're placements and education programmes—they are actual jobs. So, if that individual is unable to secure a job and gain supervisory skills et cetera, they're unable to achieve that level 3. However, what we can do is obviously work with the individuals, prepare them for that future role, and try and encourage the employer and get in-work progression as well. But we are constrained by the labour market. 

So, would a restructuring of the approach to learning and the way regional skills partnerships operate, do we need to—? What am I saying? Do we need to restructure it so it better reflects the real world?

I think if you are looking at progression from level 2 to level 3—and that's probably an inquiry in itself in terms of how we determine levels, because we're constrained here by qualification levels, and that's what we mean. If a qualification includes a great deal of supervisory skills and somebody is going to be unable to achieve that—. However, if that level 3 is more around technical skills, then it is far easier for that person to achieve the skills in the workplace. So, there's a bit of work to be done, and it is being done, around how we build qualifications, which ultimately make up apprenticeships, to allow that progression through the levels.

Which comes back to employability. Are partnerships aware that level 3, 4, 5 and 6 need to deliver specific skills that then mirror the market to deliver employable apprenticeship graduates? Is that happening?

I would imagine that the individuals within the RSPs are aware of that, but there's a great deal of work going on with Qualifications Wales in terms of the qualifications systems and the qualifications that make up that system being far more fit for purpose.

Okay. So, we're not there yet with regard to both employability or progression. 

I don't know whether it's reasonable to expect—

I don't think it's the RSPs role to get into that level. 

I don't think any single body can be a fount of knowledge on everything. Sorry, vice-chancellors might try to claim this at times, but—

No, no. I've now worked with employers for over 30 years as an educationalist, and before that I was a senior manager in business, actually looking at the nature of what we're doing. I don't think it's an employer's job to worry about, 'Is that level 2, level 3 or level 4?' That's our job, because, actually, that's about the qualification the individual gets. What the employer is much more interested in is, 'Okay, I can identify what sort of attributes I want of that set of workers—what I think that future need will be.' And I think it's our job to help with that translation. So, if you come back to the regional skills partnerships, I think their primary job is to look at, 'What does that future landscape look like?' Are we confident, as much as we can be, that, actually, we're enabling all the various parts to work efficiently and effectively together—coming back to your progression question—so that, actually, there aren't any inhibitions in being able to meet those needs? Therefore, I think it falls to organisations like us, working with organisations like Qualifications Wales and with education Ministers, to actually say, 'If there's a problem that we can't meet that demand because of some structural thing about the way that we're operating or the way funding works, so, actually, it's not easy to progress between levels—'. I think that's what you'd expect us to do. 

09:55

Yes, and that's the heart of the question: is the provider landscape recognising and mirroring the employment landscape? You don't expect the employment landscape to change for the providers—it's the other way around.

It's never completely perfect, is it? We're in the business of looking to the five to 10-year horizon. Most universities—you know, most of our students will take a number of years to complete their qualifications, mainly. If I'm quite frank, there is, for lots of employers—lots of the small businesses we work with are struggling to think beyond next week. So, we're working with people whose timescales are different. Therefore, yes, sometimes there is a perfect alignment—other times we're ahead and sometimes, actually, we're in catch-up mode. But, generally, I would say it works quite well, and I think that's also true for work-based learning.

I would say that the provider network is good at responding to regional economies and the needs of employers. Whether or not the RSPs have a role in ensuring progression is another question altogether, I think, but there are some inherent barriers with the product that we deliver that stop an individual from that sort of progression. I think there's a wider discussion to be had. We talk in levels, in terms of qualifications, and, sometimes, what we have when we say that we want higher level skills is higher level qualifications, but what we need is higher level skills. So, that whole packaging of competency and occupational competency is an area to be looked at, because, again, as Julie said, the employer doesn't care what level the qualification is. It's: can that individual do the job that they're employed to do? That's what we've got to get to.

The individual, of course, cares about what—[Inaudible.]—for a passport. So, there are some tensions here. Working with health boards, they are moving, in effect, to 'just in time'—I understand that. They're saying, 'I've got a need tomorrow—that's what I'll develop.' They do want people to be qualified in a way that, actually, if they were sued because of the service, they're able to say, 'Well, we did have qualified people', but they are less concerned about what it means for the individual, whereas we've got a responsibility both collectively to our country, to our economy and to what we're trying to do, and we've got responsibilities to the huge variety of bodies that hold us to account for the quality of the work that we do. We've also got to make sure that that continues to be internationally recognised. We would not want the UK to be somewhere where people say, 'Oh, well, they're a bit dicey.' And then we've got a responsibility to individuals and individual employers. So, it's a rich picture—I know you know this. I think we'd want to focus on, 'What is the regional skills partnership role?' Personally, I'm not sure they should be so much in the space of the specifics of qualifications and levels and progression.

Joyce, you wanted to come in.

Just back to Jeff, really—the National Training Federation Wales. You talk about level 3 apprenticeships being workplace-based because that's what makes it viable, so how are you going to meet the challenges, then, of rural areas, where you haven't got the big employers to take on that requirement?

I think it's fair to say that education and apprenticeships delivery, like anything else, is a supply and demand sort of business. I think there are certainly challenges in delivering employers' needs in rural areas. I think the only way that we're going to be able to overcome that is by innovative ways of delivery, be that distance learning, digital learning et cetera. I know we are, as an organisation, with our employer team, doing some work around trying to marry up individuals with providers who maybe sit outside of that area where that employer may not necessarily think to go for provision. So, we're doing some sort of work around that, but it's ultimately going to come down to innovative ways of delivery. 

10:00

So, could I just, with your permission, Chair—? There has been innovation. I mean, CCTAL was the first innovative partnership. So, are you working with employers to come together so that they, as a unit of maybe six or seven employers, could then provide for the needs of those individuals to feed their collective industry, whatever it is?

Yes. So, Cyfle, as you know, is a really good example of a shared apprenticeship scheme, and there are calls from a variety of organisations and bodies for more shared apprenticeships. I guess the problem with shared apprenticeship programmes is who is the employer and who is willing to take the risk—or carry the risk, if you like—of employing individuals. Although it is a good model, it is quite a costly model, it does take a considerable amount of resource to do it. You may well be aware, with Arcadis's scheme as well, that's coming back online now shortly as well, to try and bring together individuals, in order, as the name suggests, to share out apprentices in order that they can complete their programme. That may not necessarily resolve the rurality issue, because if an individual is living away from the main conurbations et cetera, there's still an issue of distance of travelling, and I guess where you have individuals who are apprentices—and, again, they are jobs; they'll be working for an employer in that rural area—ultimately, the provider network needs to service them where that employer is. Otherwise, that individual needs to work for an employer closer to the main populations. The only way, as I say, you can get over that, is through innovative ways of delivery, and really just trying to make sure that all elements of the system are explored in order to get that person provision.

Can I ask—? Well, we've heard some evidence that Welsh Government policy should reflect the economy that we have, not what we wished we have. So, I'm looking at Jeff, really, on this, but how closely does current apprenticeship policy reflect the economy that we have?

So, apprenticeship policy currently is moving towards higher levels—so, level 3 and above. I know—and I've watched the sessions as well—there is still replacement demand out there for level 2 provision, particularly within the foundational economies: construction, health and social care, hospitality, childcare, et cetera. That demand is still there. However, what Welsh Government needs to do is to look at the constraints that it's got on its apprenticeship budget and try and get the best return on investment for that, which is ultimately—. You've got to agree with that, I guess. But if you want more higher level skills, then that means that your lower level skills are going to suffer, and within the apprenticeship skills policy plan, there was a move towards apprenticeships at level 3 and above. It doesn't mean to say that level 2 provision won't be there for people looking to progress to level 3. However, what is also outlined in the apprenticeship skills policy plan is the concept of a foundational economy programme, which, at the moment, we're yet to see, and I think once we have a programme—and it may not necessarily be an apprenticeship—once we've got a programme to deliver short, sharp vocational interventions within those foundational economy areas, I think we'll be in a better position. But at the moment, just as an answer to your question specifically, Chair, providers are responding to the apprenticeship skills policy plan—over 62 per cent of provision now is level 3 and above—but there are real, real constraints about that level 2 only, particularly within construction, and engineering as well, health and social care. There are real constraints there.

I think what needs to change in that is a programme to replace what's been lost, which may well be this foundational economy programme.

Can I bring Bethan in, and then I'll pick up your point as well? Bethan Sayed.

I just wanted to ask, in relation to the Government's priorities, obviously in relation to higher level skills, they're promoting certain sectors—digital, engineering—and I'm wondering if you've had conversations with them in relation to how that priority is fitting with what your students want and what your institutions want and how, therefore, you can plan if that doesn't fit, and the tensions that may arise because of that.

10:05

We have had robust discussion, I think it would be fair to say. We've had good opportunities to discuss this with Government, through Ministers and their officials. We are behind the mark in terms of degree and higher level apprenticeships. We are seeing employers actually choosing to go to England to get that support, because we are well behind on that agenda. And the concerns we have are—. We understand that Government's job actually is really to be looking to the future, and then I think a backward look in terms of where we are now and the way we're working—is that enabling that future to happen? So, that's an honest answer, I think, to that.

So, with the degree apprenticeships at the moment that we have in digital and engineering, we've been incredibly slow off the mark with being able to take those forward. So, we've got our first major digital degree apprenticeship programme, working with Capgemini. That's really great. It is 25 students. At the moment, I've got 28,000 other students doing similar work, so proportionally it's quite low. We believe that the Government restriction in terms of sectors and also in terms of levels, so we can't offer degree apprenticeships above level 6—. The demand is significant in areas like cyber for postgraduate level. There's a huge demand for leadership and management—just-in-time leadership and management as well as longer term programmes. So, we will continue to push for, 'Okay, there's a start here—there are lessons we've learnt from the way that England operated, but, actually, we will continue to push Government about the fact that it's the policy environment, but it's also the enabling of those policies to come to reality', which I think is the point Jeff made.

I also want to emphasise that I think our job is to look at, actually, how that has enabled people to progress. And I think there is a concern because, in the times of austerity, there's been a huge focus on full-time learners undertaking qualifications up to level 3 and a huge drop-off in the number of students undertaking part-time. So, this is both up to level 3 and some drop-off at levels higher. So, the work that the Government has done in terms of looking at funding of higher education and the way that students borrow money, we are seeing growth now in part-time numbers because of the Diamond implementation and the loan arrangement. So, I think it's a complex picture, but we will continue to look at actually how that works. 

I'm sorry if this was covered, but I'm just finding it confusing, with the regional skills partnerships looking at certain elements of education and tracking what courses are necessary and then higher education and FE not included. You've got different focuses in different areas that may not align to fit the future outlook under the current situation. So, if you don't feel that your place is in the regional skills partnerships, how do you feel that you can become part of a pathway of development so that Wales isn't going off piste on lots of different courses?

So, I was answering the question about Welsh Government as opposed to the regional skills partnerships. I think you were talking more in what I call 'the policy space' as opposed to the regional skills partnership roles, which I think is to have a regional focus as to what do they see as the future skills needs. And, personally, we don't think they can plan all the curriculum—that's our job. So, I think we're comfortable that we have some engagement. We talked a little bit earlier about ways in which that could be enhanced, and we've continued to see that. I think where I was going is actually the direct question about Welsh Government, and I think, at the moment, we are probably not being far-sighted enough about the need to recognise degree, higher level apprenticeships as absolutely part of the future and opening them up in a way that means there's greater flexibility to be able to meet those needs. At the moment, they are very restricted. 

And then, picking up on Jeff's point too, our job would be to make sure that we can bring people into those programmes so that, actually, they can benefit from that study.

Just picking up a couple of the points there, with the regional skills partnerships and degree apprenticeships, the interesting dynamic there is that all the regional skills partnerships have recommended an expansion of degree apprenticeships into other areas. So, if we're looking at how they're reflecting regional priorities, that is what they've said, but that's not what we've seen on a national policy level. And I think that, in terms of the earlier point around working for the economy that we want versus the economy that we have, perhaps that's a little bit of a false opposition, because we need to do a little bit of both. Some of Wales's largest employment sectors are manufacturing, transport, retail. We know these are areas that are likely to shrink, so we do need to meet the economy we have, but the economy is going to change whether we want it to or not, and we need to prepare for that.

In terms of degree apprenticeships, when you look across the UK, Scotland have just expanded the numbers of starts for 2019-20 from 800 to 1,300 because of the demand they are receiving from employers. The spectrum of degree apprenticeships they're looking at in Scotland, they're at level 7 and they are in a range of subject areas beyond digital and engineering. So, it's not just a comparison with England. When you look at our place within the UK, the current state of play is changing very quickly.

10:10

Can we just look at the suggestion of expanding the remit of RSPs? We've heard a lot of evidence from partnerships and colleges that the remit of the skills partnerships should be extended to higher education. What are your views on this and could it work given institutional academic freedom? Following on from that, where is it appropriate for partnerships to have influence over higher education provision, and is there scope for some formalised collaboration of the provision and what could it look like? Could Julie and Kieron answer that?

I'll let Kieron start because I could rant about this for a little while. So, you start and I'll follow up.

It's interesting, I did note in a previous evidence session one of your witnesses did make explicit reference to medicine and education as potential areas where RSPs could have influence. They're actually really interested in the subjects raised, because medicine and education are already subject to various levels of national planning. The supply side of those subject areas is not the issue, it's not that the provision isn't there, it's actually—. For example, when you look at medicine, it's how you incentivise the demand, and there's been various efforts to get people to come to Wales to study medicine. So, when you look at subjects that were raised earlier, around medicine and education, they are already subject to planning. Actually, they are also both good examples of how a lot of what universities do is to meet national rather than regional needs. So, people study medicine mainly in Cardiff, Swansea and, from this year, in Bangor. The students who study on those programmes have to meet Wales's needs not the needs of the regions they're studying in. When I did my PGCE in English teaching in Swansea, there were 48 of us on that PGCE. Despite Swansea's rich literary heritage, Swansea did not need 48 English teachers that year, but they were mobile and they went to other parts of Wales that did need English teachers. I think that actually really highlights some of the national dimension of the skills work universities do.

Could I just pick up—? We talked earlier about the engagement with the regional skills partnerships, and we would argue for an enhancement to have learners at the table. I think it's a huge omission that, actually, we're assuming that only the employing bodies, only a limited group of educationalists, are the right people to sit around the table. We would want a greater learner voice, so actually you're bringing in the people who are going to benefit from this going forward. The word 'planning' is the word that I shiver at very slightly, because we're market led. So, how far do you plan markets? I'm not sure the regional skills partnerships are there to plan markets. What they are there for, I think, is to, on a regional basis, put a focus on the here and now. Where are we now? Where do we think the future's going? And to challenge us, to challenge national Government, to challenge other bodies about, 'Are you facilitating what we see as the future?', rather than get into the detail of planning the curriculum. I would object very strongly to that for lots of reasons, not only institutional autonomy. The reality is that, actually, for most higher education provision, we're not only serving the region. We cut across regions, we cut across nations, we obviously cut across globally. If we weren't able to do that, it would be a lot poorer experience for our learners, and ultimately for the organisations—

We're struggling a bit for time, to be honest. Can I ask David to carry on with questions?

I'd like to come back to Bethan at some point as well, but I am mindful of the time. 

Specifically in terms of your question, David—should RSPs have a role within HE—I think there are two things that the RSPs do, aren't there? There's one about the labour market information and that sort of future gazing. Where they impact on FE and work-based learning at the moment is because they are inherently involved in the planning of funding, and I think that because FE and work-based learning generally deliver to local economies, that, to some extent, makes sense to me. I think it's fair to say that universities serve a different type of audience.

However, what we would say, particularly with regard to degree apprenticeships—again, that's another inquiry to have—is that those are likely to be delivered to people and employers in that local area. So, I think it's fair to say—. And, you know, the areas that you're working in already are regional priorities, so I think it's already happening. I would say, where there is an element of direct funding to institutions for provision, then it should link to RSPs, in the same way as it does for FE and work-based learning. Universities do serve a different audience.

10:15

I'll make sure I give you some time to come back on Bethan's question as well, Jeff, at the end. David. 

Coming back again to Julie and Kieron, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales's remit letter asked that it work more closely with the regional skills partnerships in 2019-20 to identify industry needs. In what ways could this be done?

I think the first thing is that we probably need to get greater consistency as to higher education engagement—i.e. membership of regional skills partnerships—because it's hugely variable, so that's not helpful. Higher education institutions, as you know, have slightly different missions and orientations, so, actually, you need to make sure you reflect that diversity so you're able to get that voice at the table. The other thing is to bring the learner in—so, those two points I've made. I think those will be the ways that, actually, we have an even more fruitful dialogue than the one that we already have.

For 2019-20, the die is already cast. We're all well into the recruitment, and, actually, if I look at employers, most employers are not working on, 'Well, I'm sitting here on Thursday, and on Friday I want a completely different workforce'. So, I think, actually, for us it's probably the three to five-year horizon. It's Jeff's point about the locus—it's less about the today and more about tomorrow, and less about a very narrow geographical base and more about a wider geographical base, and cutting across boundaries. You know, you'd find that Swansea University would be working within this region, and we would be working within the south-west.

So, I do worry. Seriously, I've got a very significant question about if you tie this very tightly to this region, it's only the universities in that region. I think it'll be poorer for us.

David? You're satisfied. Okay. I'm looking at, perhaps, Julie or Kieron here. You mentioned in your evidence the need for more specialist input on data and evidence, and that this expertise exists in universities. Is there a potential for more formal collaboration?

Yes, absolutely. I think we all, as decision makers in our various roles, need to, as far as possible, be evidence based. I think our fundamental point here is that there is a resource within the universities. Clearly, they are employed by the university, but, as academics, they are working with that evidence base and with that information base, and we would like to see more of that used.

Well, I think simply by the regional skills partnerships being a bit more open about there being expertise in universities they could draw upon. 

What might facilitate that is some of John Graystone's recommendations around moving to a two to three-year skills plan, which would create that space for those conversations to happen.

Okay. Another question: Jeff, how can smaller businesses—how can the engagement with them be improved?

I think we've got to be realistic, I guess, in terms of what the RSPs can do with the resources that they have. If you look across the three RSPs as they're currently constituted in terms of staff, I think there are 11 staff in total. So, they're limited in terms of that engagement. Also, the 198,000 enterprises in Wales—94.5 per cent are microbusinesses. We don't necessarily need to speak to all of them to understand what their needs are, but I think it's fair to say that what, maybe, RSPs need to be doing, instead of organising forums for people to come in, is maybe going out to where those forums already exist.

As I said, we've got a team of people who work on employer engagement on behalf of the network currently, and we work until 8 o'clock in the evening, so when micro and SMEs are working—you know, they don't work work 9 to 5. Anybody who comes through that system with a mobile number, a man in a van, there's no point ringing them until after 6 o'clock at night, and that's what we're doing. We're just doing things differently to where employers are at, and I think that's where, if you want to engage, to at least allow the opportunity for businesses to engage, you've got to go to where they are and not expect them to come through the committee structures.

10:20

The issue is resources, but as we said in our paper, work-based learning by its very nature is delivered in employers' premises, and it's about using us and using universities to engage with our networks as well. But the main thing with the regional skills partnership, and with LMI particularly, is at some point, somebody has to speak to somebody, and that's a resource.

We do need to finish before half past 10. We've got two areas to cover. I know David's got an area, Joyce has got an area, and I want to give you time, Jeff, to come back on Bethan's question as well. David Rowlands.

How well is wider Welsh Government policy on apprenticeships and funding aligning with the work of the partnerships, and what, if anything, needs to change? Perhaps you could tell us, Jeff.

It probably answers one of Bethan's questions as well, in terms of where apprenticeship skills policy is going and the needs of employers, particularly at a lower level. Now, obviously, Julie and Kieron have talked in terms of the higher level skills that are not being met by the apprenticeship skills policy. Similarly, if there is—. In the confines of £112 million worth of funding, if you want more higher apprenticeships, they cost more to deliver; therefore there's less to deliver lower level apprenticeships, for example level 2. I've already mentioned that there are pressures on construction, health and social care, hospitality, which are generally level 2 only qualifications, and there are contract restrictions. What we see—. A very real specific example: engineering in north Wales, in north-west Wales, is a priority. Engineering is a priority across Wales. Engineering firms in north Wales are generally looking to recruit an older worker, and an older worker is 20 plus. There are contract restrictions on learners who are aged 20 and over. There's a disconnect between national contracting and regional priorities. Certainly, what we would say, if it is deemed to be a regional priority, then there should be no restrictions on contracting. So, there's a disconnect, and we are having conversations with Welsh Government and trying to square this circle, but that is the reality of having regional priorities and national contracting. And it works the other way, I guess, in terms of nursing. Nursing and health and social care, which I know one of your witnesses has talked about—it would probably be better to contract that on a national basis.

Is that contributing, as you said yourself, Jeff, to the fact that skills demand is outstripping the training supply?

There's skills demand at the higher levels as well. In terms of the apprenticeship funding for this year, £112 million was contracted out. There was £5 million set aside as a competitive lot, if you like, for people to compete in, based on regional skills priorities. My understanding was, in terms of the bids that came in, it was £80 million short. So, there's demand out there at that sort of level. That's being driven by the apprenticeship levy and everything that's going on with that—the demand for higher level learning. There's significant demand, and I think what we've got to be mindful of is that the question is not about the size of your slice of pie, it's the overall pie we've got to look at. There's a big demand out there.

And, I think, flexibility within it. I think it would be naive of us to say here we don't recognise that actually everybody's got limited financial wherewithal. We're not going to sit here and say to the Government, 'By the way, you should be trebling that.' That might be what we want, but we recognise you're working with restrictions too. So, actually, there will always be a case, perhaps, that some skills demands outstrip the funding that's available, so it's releasing the restrictions on it, so that actually we're able to be more responsive in the way that Jeff described around particular regional needs. I would agree with that. I absolutely agree with the age restrictions. It seems ridiculous to apply that. And actually, I think the notion of apprenticeships, particularly, I find very old fashioned. I think most people assume an apprenticeship is something for a 16-year-old and that that's what it is, and actually that's not what we're talking about. If you look at the future, we need much greater flexibility for people of all ages to access learning opportunities at different levels.

Just the last point that I have here. Obviously, Welsh Government are talking about prioritising higher-level apprenticeships—we're talking about 3, 4, 5 and 6—but the reality is that the industry is calling for the same numbers of level 1 and level 2 apprenticeships to be there. So, where should be the priority? 

10:25

Certainly not level 1. That is a sort of step in. The FSB Wales did a really good report recently, 'A Skilful Wales', and, within that, it outlines the conversations that they had with their employer base. What their employers were looking for were level 2 and level 3 provision—the sort of mainstay of apprenticeship provision. What we're seeing is a move towards higher apprenticeships—level 3, increasingly level 4 and above—and with the advent of degree apprenticeships, that's going to be even more exacerbated. But there is still a need for level 2 and level 3 skills provision in the wider Welsh workforce. A lot of that is replacement. A lot of that is going to be new as well, but tradespeople and those sorts of people want level 2 or level 3 skills. And when you're constrained by that budget, if you want more of something, something else has got to give, and that's the reality of where we are at the moment. 

So, could that be resolved by there being proper progression stages between level 2 and the higher level? Because apparently that's missing, isn't it?

The progression is not missing. As I said to Hefin's questions, the issue of progression is around stepping from one level to another level and the requirements of that higher level. So, there are some fundamental issues there that need to be addressed. So, that's not the issue there. I think how it can be resolved is—and I made reference to it earlier within the apprenticeship skills policy plan—discussion of a foundational programme. Not all skills at level 2 or level 3 need to be delivered via an apprenticeship. Skills are skills. 

Okay. So, we're coming to the end. Could we get rid of the partnerships? Do we need them?

You can go first on that one. 

Well, an interesting question, Joyce: what would happen if they disappeared tomorrow? If I'm honest—and I work with each of the RSPs—I think there's certainly a role for RSPs, but I don't think much would happen, because you guys are already engaging with employers, we're already engaging with employers. I'm not advocating that the RSPs go. I'm just making sure that the role that they fulfill adds value to the whole skills landscape. I think there is absolutely a case for bodies—or a body—to have a conversation with employers, to do that future-gazing, because there is nobody else to do it. And I think the reason that so much pressure is being put on the RSPs at the moment is because the whole infrastructure across the UK that used to do this—UK Commission for Employment and Skills, sector skills councils—has been completely eroded, and nobody, apart from commercial organisations, is having conversations with employers and sectors to see what their needs are. There needs to be an impartial body to sense-check things and to future-gaze.

You said you might not miss them, but they're needed. So, which is it?

Well, what I said is, if they go tomorrow, I think it would be business as normal, but I'm not advocating for one moment that we shouldn't have that level of engagement with employers to identify what their demands are. So, they need to be improved. 

And I think you can see from that that I think we're saying that's the focus of their work. So, coming back to your questions about moving into planning the curriculum—potentially delivering the curriculum—and being the people who broker those deals with the employers, I'm not convinced that's their job. Their job, I think, is this: if we keep them and they stay, then, actually, we do need a body that's doing that translational work and that environmental scanning to look at local needs.

I want to ask a final question, because we're running out of time. How do you think that regional skills partnerships can fit into the PCET reforms? That's post-compulsory education and training reforms. 

Absolutely. There's a hell of a lot on the horizon with the whole system, and I think that, as I would see—. There is a role for a body or bodies to do that LMI, to have that conversation, to do the secondary desk-based research, to check that with employers on the ground, and feed that into what will be the PCET body in order to inform their planning and their procurement. But that needs to be impartial from the funder and it needs to be impartial from the provider. So, there is a role to capture LMI, do some analysis of it, turn it into some intelligence, feed it into PCET, but also to inform young people in schools about what the future opportunities are. Nobody is doing that at the moment. Without the RSPs, nobody would be doing that.

10:30

You could argue about how it's organised, but we certainly need a body, taking it to intelligence rather than information—taking it to intelligence, and a rational, coherent way of doing that. If regional focus is the way to do it, fine. I do think the regions need to be talking to each other more because, actually, there's a fluidity across some of our regions, particularly south-west and south-east. So, yes, I would agree—I think that's a very good analysis of what we would expect.

Very briefly, with PCET, what we've always said is that PCET does offer an opportunity to improve the flexibility and responsiveness of the system—so, the ways in which people can step on and off the programmes. As Jeff said, there can be a role for RSPs in feeding into PCET, but having a bit of distance between the intelligence and the information the RSPs are providing and what the PCET body is doing in supporting and enabling providers. 

In relation to what you just said in relation to the intelligence gathering, we've had lots of evidence whereby we've been told that regional skills partnerships simply don't have the correct data, are moving around courses in an arbitrary fashion and are very complex and very clumpy in relation to people's understanding of them. If you think they are the people to be doing this intelligence scoping, how do they need to change to be able to do that, because currently I'm not convinced that they've got the power or the information to be able to do that. So, I'm wondering, if not them, what would it be. If you say this independent body—

We'd just refer back to what we mentioned earlier and, firstly, implementing John Graystone's recommendations for two- to three-year skill plans, which would create a bit more space for analysis, but also using expertise that exists in Wales, including at universities, but not solely—

You need some body, you need some entity that's looking at this. We earlier answered that it could be on a national basis, it could be on a regional basis.

Unfortunately, we haven't got the time to open up another discussion. We've got a really tight schedule this morning. Can I apologise—

I'm happy to follow up with a written response on anything.

Yes, that would be welcome. I appreciate that. I do apologise that we've had to rush through the session—we've got two more sessions this morning on our timetable. Can I thank you for your time this morning? We're very grateful, as we know you're busy people. Diolch yn fawr. Thank you.

We'll take a 10-minute break, but I ask Members to stay for a moment so that we can talk about the next session.

10:40

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 10:33 a 10:44.

The meeting adjourned between 10:33 and 10:44.

4. Partneriaeth Sgiliau Rhanbarthol: Darpariaeth Gymraeg
4. Regional Skills Partnerships: Welsh Language Provision

Welcome back. I move to item 4.

Croeso, bawb.

Welcome to you all.

I'd like to welcome you to committee this morning. 

Diolch am ddod.

Thank you for attending.

We have a series of questions this morning from Members. Grateful for your time with us. If I could start, can you tell us how you work with the partnerships and what you sought to achieve in working with the partnerships? 

Ein diddordeb ni, wrth gwrs, ydy sicrhau bod hyfforddiant ar gael ar gyfer pobl i fod yn gweithio, maes o law, yn ddwyieithog yn rhan o weithlu Cymru. Yn hynny o beth, beth sy'n bwysig i ni ydy bod yna ddata cynhwysfawr a chyfredol am anghenion sgiliau Cymraeg ar gael, a bod y wybodaeth honno'n cael ei throsglwyddo er budd cynllunio cyfleoedd i bobl gael eu haddysgu, a bod y cyfleoedd hynny'n cael eu trosglwyddo i ddysgwyr a'u bod nhw'n ymwybodol o'r cyfleoedd sydd ar gael iddyn nhw a phwysigrwydd meddu ar sgiliau yn y Gymraeg ac yn y Saesneg, a bod cyflogwyr hefyd eu hunain yn ymwybodol o hynny. Felly, gyda hynny mewn golwg, mi aethon ni ati dros yr ychydig fisoedd diwethaf i gynnal ymarferiad mapio o randdeiliaid yn y sector ôl-16, a rhan o hynny wedyn oedd ymgysylltu gyda'r partneriaethau sgiliau. Ania, wyt ti eisiau dweud rhagor am y gwaith rŷn ni wedi ei wneud?

Our interest, of course, is in ensuring that training is available for people so that, eventually, they can work bilingually as part of the workforce of Wales. In that respect, what's important for us is that we have comprehensive and current data about Welsh language skills requirements, and that that information is transferred for the benefit of planning as regards training opportunities, and that those opportunities are then transferred to learners so they're aware of the opportunities that are available to them and of the importance of having Welsh language skills, and so that employers also are aware of that. So, with that in mind, we conducted a mapping exercise of stakeholders over the past few months, which then included engagement with the skills partnerships. Ania, do you want to say some more about that work? 

10:45

Jest i ategu hyn, gwnaethon ni weithio'n eithaf agos gyda phartneriaeth y gogledd i gynllunio adroddiad atodol am y Gymraeg yn benodol, a hefyd fe wnaethon ni ymgysylltu yn eithaf dwys gyda phartneriaeth y dwyrain ar bwnc eu holiadur nhw. Ar y pryd, roedden nhw'n ailystyried eu holiadur nhw, felly gwnaethon ni weithio gyda nhw, jest i ystyried cynnwys eu holiadur a thrio gweithio mas sut y buasai modd addasu eu holiadur fel ei fod e'n gweithio'n well o ran y Gymraeg. Felly, dyna hyd a lled ein hymgysylltu gyda'r partneriaethau hyd yn hyn. 

Yes, just to add to that, we worked very closely with the partnership in north Wales to plan a supplementary report on the Welsh language in particular. We engaged intensively with the partnership in the east on their survey because they were reconsidering their survey. We worked with them just to reconsider its content and to see whether it could be adapted so that it worked better in terms of the Welsh language. So, that's the work that we've done in terms of engagement with the partnerships to date. 

Diolch, Gadeirydd. Efallai y byddai fe'n syniad jest i roi 30 eiliad o gyd-destun o ran sut mae'r coleg wedi symud i faes addysg bellach fel cyd-destun i hynny. Os caf i, gyda'ch caniatâd, jest roi pyramid bach i chi sy'n esbonio hynny—os galla i basio'r rheini rownd i'r Aelodau.

Ddwy flynedd yn ôl, fe ofynnodd Llywodraeth Cymru i grŵp tasg a gorffen edrych ar sut mae modd datblygu'r Gymraeg yn y sector addysg bellach a phrentisiaethau. Daeth grŵp at ei gilydd wedyn i edrych ar sut mae modd datblygu. Mae'r pyramid yn sail i waith y grŵp yna. Mae'r pyramid yn bwysig achos mae yna drafodaeth am sgiliau iaith Cymraeg—ydyn ni'n sôn am bobl sy'n gallu sgwennu cynghanedd neu'n gallu ennill cadair? Wel, na. Yn yr achos yma, rŷn ni'n sôn am bob dysgwr yn y colegau addysg bellach ac mewn prentisiaethau—pobl sy'n gallu cyfarch rhywun yn Gymraeg, sy'n gallu dweud 'bore da' efallai, sy'n gallu cynnig paned i rywun sydd yn wael yn yr ysbyty neu mewn cartref gofal. Y peth cyntaf i'w ddweud yw bod pob dysgwr yn gallu bod yn rhan o hwn, ac felly pan fyddwn ni'n sôn am sgiliau, dŷn ni ddim jest yn sôn am sgiliau ar y lefel uchaf yn y Gymraeg ond pob math o sgiliau, sy'n adlewyrchu, efallai, sgiliau y pwyllgor hwn a phawb yng Nghymru. 

Yr ail elfen yw, er mwyn gwneud hynny yn ymarferol, fod angen edrych ar chwe philer. Mae'r daflen sydd gennych chi yn mynd drwy'r chwe philer: dysgwyr, staff, darpariaeth, adnoddau, cymwysterau a chyflogwyr. Dyma le mae'r RSPs yn dod mewn a dyma le mae'n bwysig iawn, yr ymgysylltiad gyda'r RSPs. Un health warning bach: cyhoeddwyd y cynllun yma gan y Llywodraeth ym mis Ionawr, so bydda i'n gallu adrodd ar tua chwe wythnos o waith o roi'r cynllun ar waith, ond lot o gynllunio a meddwl amdano fe.

O ran yr RSPs, rŷn ni wedi cael un cyfarfod gyda'r RSPs drwy'r Llywodraeth ac wedi bod yn trafod gyda nhw. Dwi'n credu mai'r ffordd fwyaf teg yw dweud ei fod e'n patchy. Mae rhai RSPs yn gwneud rhai pethau yn y Gymraeg, ond dyw rhai ddim yn gwneud rhyw lawer iawn ar sgiliau Cymraeg. Hyd yn oed wedyn, does yna ddim approach cenedlaethol, strwythuredig i'r pethau yma. Felly, mae pawb yn trio gwneud rhywbeth, efallai, o'n hargraff ni, ond does dim approach cenedlaethol, strwythuredig. Felly, gyda rhywfaint o'r cyd-destun yna, dyna le rŷn ni wedi cyrraedd hyd yn hyn gyda'r RSPs. 

Thank you, Chair. Perhaps it would be a good idea just to give 30 seconds of context as regards how the college has moved to the further education field, to give some broader context. With your permission, I can give you a leaflet showing a pyramid that explains that—if I could just pass them around to the Members.

Two years ago, the Welsh Government asked a task and finish group to look at how we can develop the Welsh language in the further education and apprenticeship sector, and then a group came together to look at how we can develop that. The pyramid is the basis of that group's work. The pyramid is important because there is a discussion about Welsh language skills—are we talking about people who can write strict metre poetry in Welsh or win an eisteddfod chair. Well, no. In this case, we're talking about all learners in further education colleges and in apprenticeships—people who can greet people in Welsh, who can say 'bore da' for example, or who can offer a cup of tea to someone who is ill in hospital or in a care home. So, the first thing to say is that every learner can be part of this and, so, when we are talking about skills, we're not just talking about skills at the highest level in Welsh but about all kinds of skills that reflect, perhaps, the skills of this committee and everyone in Wales. 

The second element, then, is that, in order to do that practically, we need to look at six pillars. The leaflet you have goes through the six pillars: learners, staff, provision, resources, qualifications and employers. This is where the RSPs come in and this is where it's very important to engage with the RSPs. One health warning, perhaps, is that this was published by the Government in January, so I'll be able to report on only around six weeks of work in implementing this scheme, but on a lot of the planning and thinking behind it.

In terms of the RSPs, we have had one meeting with the RSPs through the Government and we have been discussing with them. The fairest way to explain it is that it's patchy. Although some RSPs are doing some things through the medium of Welsh, some aren't doing very much in terms of Welsh language skills. Even then, we don't have a national, structured approach to those things. So, everyone's trying to do something, perhaps, from our viewpoint, but there is no national, structured approach. So, having given a little of the context, that's where we've got to so far with the RSPs.  

Thank you. I appreciate the information you've provided. I think Members will draw out questions on that during the session. 

I apologise, I don't think I asked you to introduce yourselves at the beginning, so I should do that. I apologise. 

I'm Dr Dafydd Trystan. I'm the registrar of the Coleg and, amongst other things, I've got responsibility for our further education and work-based learning strategy. 

Ania Rolewska, swyddog polisi Comisiynydd y Gymraeg, gyda chyfrifoldeb dros addysg ôl-16, ymysg pethau eraill. 

Ania Rolewska, Welsh Language Commissioner policy officer, with responsibility for post-16 education, amongst other things. 

Lowri Williams, uwch-swyddog polisi gyda'r comisiynydd, gyda chyfrifoldeb cyffredinol dros waith polisi'r comisiynydd. 

Lowri Williams, senior policy officer, with general responsibility for the commissioner's policy work. 

Do any of you sit on any of the regional partnership boards at all?

I think that would be one way of ensuring engagement. I think the key thing is, how do you structure engagement with Welsh language partners and Welsh language skills partners in an effective manner? I'm less concerned with nameplates and, 'Are you formally a member of a partnership?'—

10:50

—it's how do you effectively get in there.

Do you think that you can influence the partnerships in the same way that other organisations can, or do you influence them in the same way?

Emphasising that we're beginning our work, as it stands, that influence depends, maybe, on individuals in partnerships that have a particular interest in Welsh language skills or who have developed particular aspects. We've heard about the report produced by the north Wales partnership already. There are regular surveys undertaken by the mid and west partnership, but it's piecemeal. I think, for me, if there's a message that comes out from—. I've recently been to the Basque Country to look at their further education and work-based learning provision in Basque, and they approach it in a very structured, co-ordinated way. In fairness, all of us could do with learning a few lessons about how you bring different policies together and how you make sure that the RSPs, as part of a whole ecosystem of education and training for employment, work effectively. So, I'd welcome membership or another way of ensuring effective liaison, which isn't there at the moment.

And if I can perhaps expand the question to the others on the panel as well, how often do the partnerships ask you for advice?

Rwy'n credu beth sy'n digwydd ar hyn o bryd yw mai ni wnaeth gychwyn ar y sgwrs. Ni wnaeth ymgysylltu â nhw, a gwnaethon ni ffeindio ar y cyfan eu bod nhw'n barod iawn i wrando, eu bod nhw'n barod iawn i drafod, ac mae hyn oll i'w groesawu. Mae lot yn dibynnu ar unigolion, mae hynny'n wir, ac rwy'n credu bod yna lot o newidiadau o fewn y partneriaethau unigol hefyd o ran staffio, sydd wedyn yn golygu bod yn rhaid ailgychwyn ar rai cysylltiadau wrth ichi symud ymlaen, felly does dim, efallai, cymaint o barhad wrth ichi ymgysylltu. Maen nhw'n barod i wrando. Y cwestiwn yw a oes yna gapastiti ar hyn o bryd i ddelifro, i wella dulliau o gasglu data a gwella'r problemau yma o ran dibynadwyedd, cysondeb a pha mor gynhwysfawr yw'r data maen nhw'n ei gasglu. Felly, mae hyn oll—dŷn ni'n hapus iawn i drafod hyn mewn manylder hefyd. O ran parodrwydd unigolion, yn sicr, maen nhw'n barod i drafod, ond, wrth gwrs, mae lot o amrywiaeth hefyd ar draws y rhanbarthau. Wyt ti eisiau ategu rhywbeth, Lowri?

I think what happens at the moment is that we've initiated the discussion and we've engaged with them, and we've found, on the whole, that they're very willing to listen and to discuss, which is all to be welcomed. A lot depends on individuals, that's true; there have been a great many changes within the individual partnerships too in terms of staffing, which means that we have to restart and re-forge some connections as we move forward, so there isn't as much continuity in terms of that engagement. They are ready to listen, but the question is whether they have the capacity at present to deliver, to improve data collection methods and these problems in terms of the reliability, continuity and comprehensiveness of the data that they gather. So, we are willing to discuss this in detail as well. In terms of the willingness of the individuals, then they are certainly willing to meet, but there is a great deal of variation across the regions. Do you want to say anything, Lowri?

Mae'n deg dweud mai rôl o ymwneud, o ymgysylltu â nhw o safbwynt ein gwaith polisi a hybu sydd gennym ni, yn hytrach nag unrhyw ymwneud mwy ffurfiol, ddywedwn i. Efallai ei fod o'n bwysig dweud ar hynny, wrth gwrs, fod rhai o aelodau'r partneriaethau yma yn cydymffurfio â safonau'r Gymraeg, a byddai rhywun yn obeithiol y buasen nhw'n gweithredu o fewn ysbryd ac egwyddorion y safonau wrth fod yn aelodau o'r partneriaethau.

It's fair to say that the role is engaging with them from our policy work perspective and the promotion that sits with us, rather than any more formal engagement. It's important, then, to say that some of the members on these partnerships would comply with Welsh language standards, and you would hope they would act in the spirit and the principles of the standards while being part of the partnerships.

Dwi jest ishe gofyn ynglŷn â'r hyn oedd Dafydd yn ei ddweud ar y cychwyn o ran cydlynu strategol, efallai, o ran y Llywodraeth. Yn sicr, does dim Mesur iaith newydd yn mynd i ddod gerbron, ond, eto i gyd, mae angen cyrraedd y miliwn o siaradwyr, ac felly mae yna drafodaethau ar hyn o bryd rhwng y comisiynydd, dwi ar ddeall, a'r Llywodraeth ynglŷn â sut mae'r hybu hwnnw'n digwydd. Oes angen strategaeth sgiliau iaith Gymraeg, yn hytrach na bod y partneriaethau sgiliau yma sydd, ar hyn o bryd, yn ôl beth dwi'n ei glywed wrthoch chi, ddim yn siarad gyda chi, ddim efallai â'r arbenigedd sydd gan eich cyrff chi—neu ydych chi'n gweld bod angen datblygu sgiliau o fewn y systemau sydd yn bodoli fan hyn yn lle? Beth yw'ch delfryd chi o ran rhyw fath o strategaeth sydd yn gallu llywio sut mae darpariaeth yn gwella yn y maes yma?

I just wanted to ask about what Dafydd said at the beginning about the co-ordination of the strategy by the Government. Certainly, we're not going to have a new Welsh language Bill, but we do need to reach those million Welsh speakers, so there are discussions ongoing with the commissioner, as I understand, and the Government about how that promotion happens. Do we need a Welsh language skills strategy, rather than the skills partnerships that, at present, as I understand it from you, are not discussing with you, and perhaps don't have the expertise that your bodies have—or do you see that we need to develop skills within the systems that already exist here instead? What is your ideal in terms of some kind of strategy that could drive how provision improves in this area?

Dwi'n credu bod angen strategaeth genedlaethol o ran sgiliau Cymraeg, ac mae hynny'n deillio o'r angen i gynllunio yn effeithiol ond hefyd i ddeall yn well sgiliau Cymraeg. Achos roeddwn i'n gwrando ar fy nghydweithwyr i Julie Lydon yn trafod gynnau fach sut mae cyflogwyr ddim bob amser yn gallu adnabod yn effeithiol beth yw'r sgiliau sydd eu hangen arnyn nhw 10 years hence. Os yw hynny'n wir yn gyffredinol, mae e'n arbennig o wir am y Gymraeg. Beth yw basic Welsh? Byddai pob un ohonom ni efallai gyda diffiniad gwahanol, ac felly rwy'n credu bod angen strategaeth genedlaethol i roi hwnna at ei gilydd.

Wedyn mae angen cydlynu a chysoni pethau. Mae yna arolwg da yn cael ei wneud gan un o'r partneriaethau yn rheolaidd gyda chyflogwyr, ond dyw'r un patrwm ddim yn cael ei ddilyn gan bob un. So, dŷn ni ddim yn gwybod beth yw'r anghenion sgiliau, hyd yn oed fel maen nhw'n cael eu diffinio nawr gan gyflogwyr yn y gogledd neu yn y canolbarth. Dŷn ni ddim yn gallu cymharu. Mae rhai pobl yn dweud fydd yna ddim lot o anghenion yn hoff siop tsips Rhodri Morgan yng Nghas-gwent. Ond fe fydd yna wahaniaethau. 

Mae'n rhaid i ni ddeall beth yw'r gwahaniaethau yna, ac wedyn gosod strategaeth mewn lle sydd, efallai, yn dilyn y ffrâm yna ac sy'n dweud, 'Ocê, mewn rhai mannau, mae angen rhywfaint o ymwybyddiaeth o'r Gymraeg. Mae angen sgiliau cyfarch syml. Mewn mannau eraill, mae angen bod yn gallu cymryd cofnodion pwyllgor y Cynulliad yn y Gymraeg yn gywir.' Felly mae yna lefelau, ac mae'r ddealltwriaeth yna. So, byddwn i'n awgrymu bod angen strategaeth gydlynus, o bosib fel rhan o 'Cymraeg 2050' a'r strategaeth honno, ond sydd wedyn yn cael ei fwydo a'i berchnogi gan y partneriaethau rhanbarthol, achos nhw sy'n ymwneud â chyflogwyr yn uniongyrchol. Does dim pwynt cael strategaeth lovely fan hyn yn genedlaethol ac wedyn mae jest yn cael ei hanwybyddu'n lleol. Hynny yw, tynnu pethau at ei gilydd, byddwn i'n awgrymu.  

I think that we need a national strategy in terms of Welsh language skills, and that stems from the need to plan effectively, but also to understand better Welsh language skills. Because I was listening to my colleague Julie Lydon earlier on, who was discussing how employers can't always identify effectively the skills that will be needed 10 years hence. If that's the general picture, it's particularly true in the case of Welsh. What is basic Welsh? Each and every one of us would have a different definition, perhaps, of that, so I think we need a national strategy in order to put that together.

Then, co-ordinating and making things consistent is another need. There's a good survey being done by one of the partnerships in co-ordination with employers, but the same pattern isn't being followed by everyone. So, we don't know what the skill needs are, even as they're currently defined by employers in the north and in mid Wales. So, we can't compare. Some people say that there may not be much needed in Rhodri Morgan's favourite chip shop in Chepstow, but there will be differences. We have to know what those differences are.

We then have to set a strategy that, perhaps, follows this framework that says, 'Okay, in some places, we need some knowledge of the Welsh language. We need simple greeting skills. In other areas, we need people to be able to take Assembly committee minutes in Welsh correctly.' So there are different levels, and that understanding is there. So, I'd say that we need a co-ordinated strategy, possibly as part of 'Cymraeg 2050', and we then to feed that into and own the regional partnerships, because they're the ones that are engaging with employers directly. There's no point having this happening here nationally, and then it being ignored on a local level. You need to bring things together, I would suggest. 

10:55

Buaswn i'n ategu hynny. Hynny ydy, yn gynyddol rydym ni'n gweld bod y Llywodraeth yn rhoi peth pwysau a bri i waith y partneriaethau sgiliau. Mae'n rhaid i chi brif-ffrydio'r Gymraeg i holl waith y bartneriaeth. Ond yn sicr, mae codi ymwybyddiaeth o sgiliau, o'r angen am sgiliau ymysg cyflogwyr, ac wedyn ymysg myfyrwyr wrth iddyn nhw wneud penderfyniadau deallus pan maen nhw'n 16 oed yn gadael addysg statudol, yn hollbwysig.

I would endorse those comments. Increasingly, one sees that the Government puts some emphasis on the work of the skills partnerships, but you have to mainstream the Welsh language into the work of the partnerships. And, certainly, raising awareness of the need for skills amongst employers, and then among students as they make informed decisions when they're 16 years of age and leaving statutory education—that's vitally important.

Hyd nes bod yna strategaeth genedlaethol, ydych chi'n credu ei bod hi'n briodol iddyn nhw, er enghraifft, fel maen nhw—? Dŷn ni wedi cael y partneriaethau i mewn, ac maen nhw'n argymell, ar sail data, pa gyrsiau i newid, pa niferoedd ddylai ddigwydd. Ydych chi'n credu fod ganddyn nhw'r sgiliau er mwyn argymell, 'Wel, yn y maes yma, mae angen mwy o sgiliau iaith nag sydd angen ar y sector yma'? Ydy hynny'n bodoli ar hyn o bryd, o ran rhywbeth maen nhw'n gallu ei wneud?  

Until there is a national strategy, do you think it's appropriate for them, for example—? We've had partnerships in and they recommend, on the basis of data, what courses to change, what numbers there should be. Do you think they have the skills to recommend, 'In this area, we need more language skills than this sector needs'? Does that really exist at the moment, in terms of something they can do?

Dwi'n credu, mewn egwyddor, ei bod hi'n gwneud synnwyr llwyr bod yna strwythur sy'n gyfrifol am gasglu'r data yma, a'u bod nhw'n gyfrifol am becynnu’r data yma ar fformat sy'n addas ar gyfer darparwr addysgol wedyn i gynllunio’r cwricwlwm. Dydw i ddim yn credu bod gyda ni unrhyw wrthwynebiad bod strwythur fel hyn yn cael ei ddefnyddio. Yr unig bryder ar hyn o bryd yw—. Mae yna ddau bryder: un yw bod statws y partneriaethau a'u rôl nhw yn annelwig—mae'n anodd iawn darganfod beth yw hyd a lled eu gwaith nhw ar adegau. Ac mae'n anodd gwybod beth yw eu cylch gwaith nhw hefyd. Felly mae eisiau egluro, mewn fformat sy'n gyhoeddus, beth yw eu rôl nhw, beth maen nhw'n cael ei wneud, sut maen nhw i fod i ymgysylltu gyda'r sector yn ei chyfanrwydd wedyn, fel bod pawb yn gwybod lle maen nhw'n sefyll o fewn y system.

Wedyn, mae'n rhaid bod gyda nhw ddigon o gapasiti i gasglu data dilys a wedyn bwydo'r data yma ymhellach i'r system—eto, ar fformat addas. Ac mae gyda ni bryderon o ran hynny, o ran y Gymraeg yn benodol, achos dŷn ni'n credu, yn y lle cyntaf, bod, efallai, data ddim yn ddibynadwy ar bob adeg. Mae hyn jest yn mynd yn ôl at yr ymateb i holiaduron. Dŷn ni'n gwybod bod yr ymateb i holiaduron yn eithaf isel ar y cyfan. Eto, os ydych chi'n edrych efallai ar y Gymraeg, mae'r cwestiynau am y Gymraeg yn nes at ddiwedd yr holiadur. Dyw hyn, efallai, ddim yn debygol iawn o ddenu diddordeb pobl sy'n mynd drwy'r broses.

Mae yna broblemau o ran pa mor gynhwysfawr yw'r data. Dyw pob sector ddim yn derbyn sylw ar bob adeg, er enghraifft, neu efallai dyw'r sylw i'r Gymraeg ddim yn cael ei brif-ffrydio ar draws holl gyhoeddiadau'r partneriaethau. Ac mae hefyd problemau o ran cysondeb. Fel y dywedoch chi o'r blaen, dyw pob partneriaeth ddim yn defnyddio'r un dull o gasglu data. Er enghraifft, dyw partneriaeth y gogledd ddim yn defnyddio arolwg ar hyn o bryd o gwbl i gasglu data. Dŷn ni'n gwybod eu bod nhw'n ystyried gwneud, ond ar hyn o bryd, er enghraifft, dŷn nhw ddim yn casglu data fel hyn drwy fformat holiadur. Ac eto wedyn, pa gwestiynau sy'n cael eu gofyn, er enghraifft, i ba gyflogwyr? Does dim cysondeb o ran hynny.

Felly, mewn egwyddor, does dim gwrthwynebiad i'r partneriaethau wneud hyn. Dwi'n credu ei fod e'n ddefnyddiol iawn bod yna gorff sy'n gwneud, ond mae'n rhaid egluro hyd a lled eu gwaith nhw, a hefyd sicrhau bod ganddyn nhw adnoddau a chapasiti hefyd sy'n addas at bwrpas.

I think, in principle, it makes sense that there are structures that are responsible for gathering this data, and that they're responsible for packaging the data in a format that's appropriate for the education providers to be able to prepare the curriculum. I don't think we have opposition to the structures that are used. The only concern at the moment is—. There are two concerns: one is that the status of the partnerships is ambiguous—it's very difficult to find out what the depth of their work is at times. And it's difficult to know what their remit is. So we need an explanation, in a format that is publicly available, of what their role is, what they are allowed to do, so that we can engage with the sector in its entirety, so that everybody knows where they stand in the system.

Then they need to have enough capacity to gather valid data and then feed that data into the system—again, in an appropriate format. And we have concerns in that regard, with regard to the Welsh language in particular, because, initially, perhaps the data isn't always reliable. This just goes back to the rates of responses to questionnaires and surveys. We know that those rates are relatively low on the whole. If you look at the Welsh language, then the questions on the Welsh language are towards the end of the survey. So, that's not entirely likely to engender the interest of people involved in the process.

It's difficult in terms of how comprehensive the data is. Not every sector contributes at all times, or the Welsh language isn't mainstreamed across all of the partnerships. And there are also problems in terms of consistency. As you said, every partnership doesn't use the same methods of gathering data. For example, the partnership in north Wales doesn't use a survey at the moment at all to gather the data. We know that they are considering doing so, but, at the moment, they don't gather data like this through the survey or questionnaire format. And what kinds of questions are asked, to which employers? There's no consistency in that. 

So, there's no opposition to the partnerships doing this work and it's important that there is a body that does this, but we need to explain their remit, and to ensure that they have the capacity and the resources that are appropriate for their work.

Byddwn i'n mynd ychydig ymhellach na'n cyfeillion ni yn swyddfa'r comisiynydd, a dweud mi ddylen nhw fod yn gwneud hynny, ond mi ddylen nhw fod yn gwneud hynny mewn ffordd gyson a strwythuredig. Hynny yw, byddwn i’n dweud, ar hyn o bryd—roeddwn i’n pwysleisio bod y cynllun wedi cael ei lansio ym mis Ionawr gan y Llywodraeth. Rwy'n credu y byddai’n gynamserol i’w beirniadu nhw am beidio â chyrraedd y man cywir eto, ond byddwn i yn gobeithio, yn ystod y misoedd nesaf, o leiaf, bod yna symudiad tuag at gysondeb a strwythur. Mae yna rôl gennych chi yn eich gwaith chi i’w cymell nhw i’r cyfeiriad yna; mae yna rôl gan Lywodraeth, ac mae yna rôl, efallai, gennym ni a’n cyfeillion ni yn swyddfa’r comisiynydd i wthio hynny yn ei blaen hefyd.

I would go a little further than my colleagues in the commissioner's office, and say they should be doing that, but they should be doing it consistently and in a structured way. I'd say that at the moment—I emphasised that the plan would be launched in January by the Government. I think it would be premature to criticise them for not reaching the right place so far, but we would hope that in the coming months, at least, there would be a move towards that consistency and structure. There's a role for you to motivate them in that direction; there's a role for the Government, and there's a role for us, and our colleagues in the commissioner's office, to move that forward also.

11:00

Hoffwn i ofyn sut mae'r coleg a'r comisiynydd yn gweithio gyda darparwyr sgiliau. Felly, a allwch chi esbonio sut rydych chi'n gweithio'n uniongyrchol gyda'r darparwyr sgiliau eu hunain, yn enwedig y darparwyr dysgu yn seiliedig ar waith sy'n darparu prentisiaethau?

I'd like to ask how the coleg and the commissioner work with skills providers. So, could you explain how you work directly with the skills providers themselves, particularly the work-based learning providers that deliver apprenticeships?

Diolch, Hefin. Rŷn ni’n gweithio gydag NTFW fel y corff i ddarparwyr sgiliau seiliedig ar waith, ac yn agos gyda Jeff Protheroe oedd gyda chi ychydig funudau yn ôl, ac rŷn ni’n cydlynu ar y lefel cenedlaethol yn y man cyntaf gyda nhw. Ond wedyn, rŷn ni’n cymryd camau pellach cychwynnol gyda’r darparwyr unigol. Felly, rŷn ni wedi cyllido rhai pethau gyda darparwyr ACT. Mae yna brosiect ar y ffordd gydag Educ8 maes o law. So, mae yna ddarparwyr unigol rŷn ni’n cydweithio â nhw, achos lle mae yna gyfleoedd i wneud rhywbeth—efallai rhywbeth bach i ddechrau gyda—rŷn ni’n eu cefnogi nhw i wneud hwnna. Achos un o’r pethau rwy'n credu sy'n bwysig i chi wybod, ac un o’r pethau sydd wedi rhoi teimlad da iawn i fi, yw bod darparwyr prentisiaethau—y work-based learning providers yma—yn agored. Maen nhw’n bositif am y Gymraeg. Os rŷch chi’n gallu eu helpu nhw i wneud pethau, maen nhw’n barod iawn i wneud. So, rŷn ni’n gweithio gyda nhw ar brosiectau unigol, ond rŷn ni hefyd wedi bod yn gweithio gyda’r Llywodraeth a’r NTFW ar gomisiynu adnoddau i bob dysgwr.

Rŷn ni ar hyn o bryd yng nghanol prosiect eithaf mawr i wneud e-learning resource ar gyfer dysgwyr prentisiaeth ar draws Cymru, ond yn dechrau gyda’r sector iechyd a gofal. So, o fis Medi ymlaen, bydd yna adnodd newydd i bob prentis, ym mhob darparwr, ym maes iechyd a gofal, a phynciau eraill i ddilyn—ond iechyd a gofal i ddechrau gyda—lle maen nhw’n mynd i allu gwneud pethau yn Gymraeg. Bydd rhywfaint o ymwybyddiaeth i ddechrau gyda, ond wedyn bydd y bobl sydd gyda mwy o sgiliau yn datblygu eu hyder nhw i allu siarad yn Gymraeg yn y gweithle. Ac wedyn, bydd yna tutor packs—rŷch chi’n gwybod eich hun nawr sut i ddatblygu e-resources a phethau. Mae angen yr infrastructure o gwmpas e, ond dyna’r math o beth rŷn ni’n ei wneud nawr, practically, gyda darparwyr prentisiaeth, achos maen nhw eisiau gwneud pethau. Dŷn nhw ddim cweit yn siŵr beth i wneud, a dŷn nhw ddim cweit yn siŵr sut i wneud pethau. Wedyn, rŷn ni’n gallu gweithio gyda—. Ond mae gyda nhw’r dysgwyr, mae gyda nhw’r expertise addysgiadol, mae gyda nhw’r expertise ar brentisiaethau. Rŷn ni’n gallu dod â’r ddau hynny at ei gilydd wedyn.

Thank you, Hefin. We do work with NTFW as the body for work-based learning providers, and with Jeff Protheroe, who was with you not long ago, and we co-ordinate on a national level in the first instance with them. But then, we take further initial steps with the individual providers. So, we have funded some things with the ACT providers. There is a project ongoing with Educ8 that will be coming in the near future. So, there are individual providers who we work with, because where there is an opportunity to do something small to start with, we do support them to do that. Because one of the things I think is important for you to know, and one of the things that has given me a very good feeling, is that the apprenticeship providers, these work-based learning providers, they're open, and they're positive about the Welsh language. So, if you can help them to do things, they're very ready to do that. We're working with individual funding projects, but we also work with the Government and NTFW, and we commission resources for all learners.

At the moment, we're in the middle of quite a big project, which is an e-learning resource for apprenticeships and learners across Wales, starting with the health and care sector. So, from September onwards, there will be a new resource for every apprentice, for every provider, in health and care. It will be health and care to start, but we'll move to other subjects, and they'll be able to do things through the medium of Welsh. It will be awareness-raising at the start, and then, the people with more skills will be able to develop their confidence to speak Welsh in the workplace. Then there will be tutor packs—you know yourself how you develop these e-resources. You need the infrastructure around that. But that's the kind of thing that we are doing now, practically, with apprenticeship providers, because they want to do things. They're not quite sure what to do and they're not quite sure how to do things. Then, we can work with—. But they have the learners, they have the expertise in education, they have the expertise in the apprenticeships. So, we can bring everything together then.

Mae’n dda i glywed am Educ8, achos mae’n based yn etholaeth Caerffili. Sut yr hoffech chi weithio gyda darparwyr sgiliau yn y dyfodol? Oes gan y partneriaethau rôl i’w chwarae yn hyn o beth?

It's good to hear about Educ8, because it's based in the Caerphilly constituency. So, how would you like to work with the skills providers in the future? Do the partnerships have a role to play in that?

Dwi’n credu bod gan—. Mae yna thema i beth dwi’n ei ddweud am y partneriaethau. Mae angen iddyn nhw fod yn strategol ac mae angen iddyn nhw gynllunio o ran y Gymraeg. Os ydyn nhw’n gwneud hynny, mae hwnna wedyn yn rhoi y framework ar gyfer y partnerships a’r FE colleges a phopeth arall; mae hwnna’n rili bwysig. So, dyna beth dwi’n gobeithio ei weld o’r partneriaethau yn fanna. 

Beth sydd yn fy nharo i yw—. Hynny yw, mae’r apprenticeship sector yn £120 miliwn o ran cyllideb ar hyn o bryd—mae e’n sylweddol. Dwi ddim yn credu bod angen llwyth o adnoddau i ddatblygu cyfleoedd Cymraeg, pethau Cymraeg, tu fewn i hwnna, ond mae angen rhywfaint o adnoddau. Ac, in these times of austerity—yn yr amser caled yma—mae angen meddwl am sut mae modd ffeindio rhywfaint o adnoddau i gefnogi darparwyr ar draws Cymru i wneud hwnna. So, dŷn ni’n cymryd camau bach ar hyn o bryd. Byddwn ni’n licio gwneud ychydig yn fwy, ac mae’r apprenticeship providers yn dweud y byddan nhw’n licio i ni wneud ychydig yn fwy gyda nhw. So, rwy’n credu bod yna botensial i ddelifro ar hwn yn fwy yn y blynyddoedd nesaf, gyda rhywfaint o resources.

I think that—. There is a theme to what I'm saying about the partnerships. They need to be strategic and they need to be planning for the Welsh language. If they do that, then that gives a framework for the partnerships and the FE colleges and everything else; that's really important. So, that's what I hope to see happening with the partnerships in that respect.

What strikes me is—. The apprenticeship sector is £120 million at the moment—it's significant. I don't think we need a great load of resources to develop Welsh language opportunities or Welsh activities within that, but we do need some resources. And, in these times of austerity, we need to think about how we can find some resources to support providers across Wales to do that. So, we are taking small steps at the moment. We'd like to do more and the apprenticeship providers say that they would like us to do a little more with them. So, I think there is potential to deliver on this more in the years to come, with some resources.

11:05

Diolch, Cadeirydd, and thank you for bearing with me. [Laughter.]

Gwych iawn.

Excellent.

I would say it was very good, but I don't know, but the translator heard you very well. 

He had a job there today, didn't he? He had a hell of a job there today.

I can say it was very good. [Laughter.]

Can I direct my questions directly to yourself, Dafydd, if I may? 

Your action plan for post-16 education talks about engaging with regional skills partnerships. Can you describe what success looks like here and the steps you've taken and intend to take to achieve it?

Yes. I think the steps we've taken, we've met with them, we've had discussions and we've had an understanding of what different partnerships are doing. I think success looks like a co-ordinated, structured, national approach to these matters, and that may mean that you identify that the skills needs in particular areas or in particular sectors are less than in different sectors. So be it. That gives us a sense of priorities and where we need to be supporting FE colleges and work-based learning providers to go to. So, I think that's what success looks like.

We're some distance from that yet, and I would hope that having a more consistent approach amongst the partnerships as to what the—. You almost need a sort of template of how partnerships engage on Welsh-medium skills issues, and, if you had that, I think that would improve the position. I don't think—. Another thing, if I may, sorry—I've just come back from the Basque Country, so it's in my mind. One of the things that struck me was that the budgets they have for Basque language skills and things aren't enormously different from ours here—not enormously different. You think, 'Oh, they're miles ahead of us'—actually, the budgets aren't that different, but they are far more structured and co-ordinated. So, if the Government says, 'We have a strategy to reach a million speakers' or whatever the Government says, then they expect all bits of the organisation to work together towards that. And that was the message that came home strongly. Whatever the priority is, whether it is—. They've also got an NAI digital strategy, which is world-leading, probably—

Well, yes. [Laughter.] But there are opportunities there.

Okay. I mean, this is—. A little bit in the background of this is the remit being extended of RSPs. Now, you worked with universities before your remit was extended to post 16, so, could you help us understand the differences between the two sectors, and can you tell us if and how you had to adapt to working with the FE sector at all, in general and regarding the Welsh language in particular?

I think there are a couple of points. I think there's a point about universities that isn't wholly understood in Welsh public life, which is, over the last 10 years, because of the way student fees have developed, they've become, to all intents and purposes, private entities. Let's say so quietly, but, to all intents and purposes, if your finances are determined by how many students you can attract each year, you follow the market. As Professor Lydon eloquently put it earlier on, we're market led; universities are now market led in a way that they weren't 10 years ago in Wales. Because, when the funding was coming from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales principally, then HEFCW could direct funding to universities to particular priorities, but they're market led. So, flip that to FE colleges, and FE colleges work far more closely with Welsh Government, with priorities, with the RSPs and they're very—. They're different in structure, so, in a way, I wouldn't say it's easier to work with FE colleges, but there's a closer alignment with the needs of the regional or national, whatever—the Welsh economy. So, I think that's a key point.

The second point is, and this was something I—. And this comes back to the pyramid, if you like. When we began work in FE—. In HE, what we've done is we've developed courses in Welsh, to a greater or lesser degree in Welsh, so you can study business studies in Cardiff Met now principally through the medium of Welsh, or politics, or nursing, or medicine, or whatever. That was the model for HE. When you come to FE, you've got a set of learners who've got skills at all of these different levels, who are actually anxious to be supported and willing to be supported, and if you can put a structure in place whereby all of the colleges are doing that—. There's some great work going on in Cardiff and Vale College. I went to Crosskeys two weeks ago where there's excellent work going on in supporting learners who, maybe, when they turned up, could say 'Bore da', and now they can have an initial conversation with a patient or a client in Welsh. It makes a world of difference, and they're now getting jobs in the local care sector because they know it's an advantage there. So, I think—

11:10

Do you see any—? Sorry, Dafydd. Do you see any feed-in to those colleges from the Welsh schools? Obviously, we have clusters of Welsh schools in areas—from south Wales—so, do you see that there is a feed-in to those colleges from the Welsh-medium schools?

There is—I don't know whether colleagues would like—. There are some students who go from a Welsh-medium school at 16 into the FE colleges. There's a job of work, I think, for us all to do as we develop Welsh-medium provision in further education colleges, particularly in this instance, to ensure that you're not developing competition between those two sectors, because there are only so many A-level students or level 3 students who want and are ready, willing and able to study fluently through the medium of Welsh, and the last thing you want is to spread them so thinly that you can't provide one single effective class. So, I think there's a degree of sensitivity needed there.

But I also think there are aspects where colleges are already doing—'We're going to do the Business and Technology Education Council provision in health and social care. If you want to do A-levels,'—more or less—'stay in school', and working together like that and, on a local level, getting to those kinds of agreements. It's not happening everywhere, but there's a challenge there, and an opportunity.

Cwestiwn 7? Sori, doeddwn i ddim yn sylweddoli ein bod ni wedi mynd mor glou. Jest o ran trafod agweddau cyflogadwyedd, i Dafydd, o ran eich cynllun gweithredu dŷch chi'n crybwyll bod dysgwyr yn cefnogi darpariaeth sgiliau sy'n gwella cyflogadwyedd, a bod dwyieithrwydd yn sgìl o'r fath. Allwch chi ddweud wrthym am yr ymchwil hwn a beth mae hynny'n ei olygu i ddarpariaethau a'r partneriaethau yn y dyfodol?

Question 7? Sorry, I didn't realise that we'd gone through the questions so quickly there. Just discussing the issue of employability—this is a question to Dafydd—your action plan mentions that learners are supportive of skills provision that improves employability, and that bilingualism is such a skill. Can you tell us about this research and what it means for skills provision and the partnerships in the future?

Wel, bydd rhai ohonoch chi'n gwybod fy mod i'n eithaf hoff o ddata ac o ymchwil. [Chwerthin,] Ac, wrth ddechrau ar y gwaith yma, un o'r pethau roeddwn i'n awyddus iawn i'w gweld oedd beth oedd y dystiolaeth, beth oedd yr evidence base. So, gwnaethon ni gomisiynu darn o waith i fynd i drafod gyda myfyrwyr addysg bellach a phrentisiaethau i weld beth oedd eu hagweddau nhw tuag at ddysgu yn Gymraeg a sgiliau. Efallai roedd e'n dod nôl i'ch pwynt chi, David, hefyd, sef roedd yna ddarn yn fy meddwl i, 'Ydy myfyrwyr yn mynd i FE college achos roedden nhw eisiau camu mas o addysg Gymraeg—mynd yn erbyn yr ysgol, os liciwch chi?' Actually, pan oeddwn i'n trafod gyda'r myfyrwyr, nid dyna oedd y sefyllfa. Roedden nhw'n gweld mwy o ryddid yn y coleg addysg bellach, roedd yna bynciau galwedigaethol oedd yn apelio atyn nhw. A'r cwestiwn roedden nhw'n ei ofyn inni bob tro oedd, 'Ydy hwn yn mynd i helpu fi i gael job gwell? Beth yw'r linc yma gyda jobs i'r cwrs BTEC public services yma? Ydy hwn yn mynd i fod o help i fi wneud stwff yn Gymraeg fan hyn er mwyn cael job yn yr heddlu?' Neu, 'Ydy gwneud BTEC health and social care yng Ngholeg Caerdydd a'r Fro yn mynd i helpu fi wrth wneud cais i wneud gradd nyrsio yng Nghaerdydd?' Hynny yw, beth bynnag yw e.

Ac felly mae e'n eithaf instrumental—hynny yw, o ran y myfyrwyr. Beth oedd dystiolaeth yn dangos oedd eu bod nhw eisiau clywed beth yw'r ffeithiau, ac maen nhw'n eithaf sgeptical o'r ffeithiau sy'n cael eu cyflwyno gan y Llywodraeth ac felly maen nhw eisiau clywed gan gyflogwyr, neu gan bobl sydd wedi cael jobs achos eu bod nhw wedi bod yn astudio—naill ai astudio rhyw faint yn Gymraeg neu ddatblygu rhywfaint o sgiliau. So, mae'r cyflogadwyedd yna, o'n hymchwil ni—no surprises—yn rili bwysig i fyfyrwyr.

Well, some of you will be aware that I'm quite fond of data and research. [Laughter.] And, in starting this work, one of the things I was very keen to do was see what the evidence base was. So, we commissioned a piece of work to discuss with further education and apprenticeship students to see what their attitudes were towards learning in Welsh and skills. It might come back to your point, David—there was a part of my mind that said, 'Do students go to FE colleges because they want to step out of Welsh-medium education, to go against the school, if you like?' Actually, when I was speaking to students, that's not what the situation was. They saw more freedom in further education colleges, more vocational subjects that appealed to them. The question they always asked us was, 'Is this going to help me get a better job? What is this link between jobs and this BTEC public services course? Is this going to help me to do stuff in Welsh here in order to get a job in the police?' Or 'Is doing a BTEC in health and social care in Cardiff and Vale College going to help me in applying to do a nursing course in Cardiff?' That is, whatever it is.

So, it's quite instrumental in terms of the students. That's what the evidence showed, that they wanted to hear what the facts were, and they were quite sceptical of facts that were presented by the Government, and so they wanted to hear from employers or from people who had got jobs because they'd been studying—either studying in part through the medium of Welsh or developing some Welsh skills. So, employability, from our research—no surprise—is really important to students.

11:15

Ydych chi wedi gwneud ymchwil o ran agweddau busnesau? Achos gwnes i gael cyfarfod gyda Chymdeithas yr Iaith, ac maen nhw'n dweud nad yw lot o gontractau yn rhoi onus ar y busnesau i roi sgiliau ieithyddol fel rhan o hynny, ac felly wedyn efallai bod y disgybl eisiau dysgu drwy'r Gymraeg, ond dyw'r busnes ddim hyd yn oed yn ymwybodol o'r galw er mwyn creu gofod i allu gwneud hynny. Felly, beth yw'ch trafodaethau chi wedi bod yn hynny o beth?

Have you done any research in terms of business attitudes? Because I had a meeting with Cymdeithas yr Iaith, and they said that a great many of the contracts don't place an onus on businesses to include language skills as part of that, so perhaps the pupils want to learn through the medium of Welsh, but the business isn't even aware of the demand in order to create a space where that could happen. So, what discussions have you had in that regard?

Efallai y bydd cyfeillion eisiau dod mewn ar hyn, ond, yn ein trafodaethau ni gyda Llywodraeth Cymru, mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi bod yn eithaf glir mai trwy Lywodraeth Cymru a'r RSPs mai'r engagement gyda busnesau yn digwydd yn y man cyntaf. Dŷch chi'n gallu deall hwnna—RSPs yw'r cyrff y dylai fod yn engage-io. Ond dwi yn meddwl hefyd, Bethan, y pwynt wyt ti'n ei wneud—dyw'r busnesau ddim wir yn meddwl yn y lle cyntaf am sgiliau Cymraeg a pha mor ddefnyddiol maen nhw'n gallu bod. Mae pobl yn dweud—

My colleagues might want to come in on this, but, in our discussions with the Welsh Government, the Welsh Government has been quite clear that it is through the Welsh Government and the RSPs that engagement with businesses happens in the first instance, and you can understand that. RSPs are the bodies that should be engaging, but I do think that the point you're making—businesses don't really think in the first instance about Welsh language skills and how useful they can be. People say—

Sut ydyn ni'n newid hynny? Sut ydyn ni'n newid yr agwedd hynny tuag at y Gymraeg i feddwl bod—fel dŷch chi wedi dweud yn gynharach—'Wel, rydyn ni'n gallu cael swydd ar ddiwedd hwn'? Os dŷch chi ddim yn meddwl yn ddiwylliannol am y Gymraeg, o leiaf rŷch chi'n gallu meddwl am gyflogadwyedd yn y diwedd.

How do we change that? How do we change that attitude towards the Welsh language, so that people think, 'I can get a job at the end of this'? If you don't think culturally of the Welsh language, you can at least think of it as an employability thing.

Mae yna job gan y Llywodraeth i'w wneud gyda sut maen nhw'n rhoi strwythur i'r RSPs yn eu strategaeth economi nhw. Mae yna job gan yr RSPs i'w wneud o ran sut maen nhw nid yn unig yn casglu data am y Gymraeg ond yn helpu busnesau i ddeall beth yw'r sgiliau Cymraeg sydd eu hangen arnyn nhw hefyd, achos mae hwnna'n eithaf tricky. A wedyn mae yna job gan bobl fel y Coleg Cymraeg, fel y comisiynydd, i'w wneud i sicrhau pan fo gennych chi fusnes sydd eisiau gwneud y pethau yma, bod yr holl tools yma yn barod i'w helpu nhw. Achos beth dwi'n ffeindio yw—. Dwi ddim yn ffeindio bod lot o resistance neu ddim byd fel yna, ond dwi'n ffeindio lot o bobl sydd jest yn, 'O, dwi'n rhedeg busnes', neu 'Dwi'n gwneud y ddarpariaeth yma; mae gen i lwyth o bethau i'w gwneud'—mae'r Gymraeg jest yn un peth yn ormod. Felly, os dŷch chi'n mynd iddyn nhw a dweud, 'Okay, here's a plan. Here's a resource. Here's a bit of help, here's the funding i wneud hyn', rŷch chi yn gallu newid pethau ac wedyn rŷch chi'n cael busnesau sydd rili yn elwa o hynny.

There's a job for the Government there, to think about how they provide a structure for the RSPs in their economy strategy. There's a job for the RSPs to do in terms of how they not only gather data about the Welsh language, but also help businesses to understand what the language skills are that they need, because that's quite tricky as well. Then there's a job for people such as the Coleg Cymraeg and the commissioner to ensure that, when you have a business that wants to do these things, all of these tools are there ready to help them. What I find—I don't find a great deal of resistance or anything like that, but I find a lot of people who are just overwhelmed. 'I'm running a business', 'I'm making this provision; I have so many things to do', and the Welsh language is just one thing too many. If you can then go to them and say, 'Well, here's a plan, here's a resource, here's a bit of help and here's a little bit of funding to do this', then you can change things, and then you do have businesses that benefit from that.

Mae'r comisiynydd wedi gwneud gwaith yn yr ardal yma, hefyd.

The commissioner has done work in this area as well.

Mi wnaeth ein tîm hybu lot o waith gyda busnesau. Bydd Lowri, siŵr o fod, yn barod iawn i siarad am hyn, ond dwi jest eisiau ategu'r pwynt hefyd o ran sut mae'r RSPs, er enghraifft, yn cyfathrebu â busnesau, cyflogwyr, o ran y Gymraeg. Efallai rhywbeth o ddiddordeb ichi o ran yr holiaduron y gwnaethon ni eu gweld—mae yna gwestiwn yno i fusnesau o ran sut maen nhw'n bwriadu, sut maen nhw'n amcanu, cynyddu defnydd o'r Gymraeg yn unol ag amcanion Cymraeg 2050. Nawr, mae hwn yn gwestiwn teg, ond mae'n cymryd yn ganiataol bod y cyflogwyr yn gwybod beth yw'r amcanion Cymraeg 2050, a'u bod nhw hefyd yn gwybod sut i fynd ati i gynnyddu defnydd o'r Gymraeg. Dyw hyn ddim yn wybodaeth sydd—dŷn ni, efallai, yn meddwl bod pawb yn gyfarwydd â'r camau penodol, ond dylen ni ddim gymryd yn ganiataol bod cyflogwyr yn ei wybod, ac felly mae'n hynod o bwysig, wrth i'r partneriaethau fynd ati i ymgysylltu â chyflogwyr, fod gyda nhw'r safle canolog yma o fewn y system—nhw yw'r nexus gwybodaeth yma, lle mae'r wybodaeth oddi wrth gyflogwyr yn llifo i greu sail tystiolaeth ar gyfer darpariaeth ôl-16. Mae'n hanfodol eu bod nhw'n cyfathrebu hefyd â chyflogwyr, eu bod nhw'n hybu ffynonellau gwybodaeth, eu bod nhw'n cysylltu cyflogwyr â ffynonellau gwybodaeth perthnasol. Does dim rhaid bod gyda nhw yn benodol arbenigedd mewn bob dim, ond mae'n hanfodol eu bod nhw'n cysylltu pobl â'r wybodaeth berthnasol.

Dwi ddim yn gwybod os dŷch chi eisiau dweud rhywbeth am y gwaith hybu.

Our team did do a lot of work with businesses. I'm sure Lowri can discuss this also, but, just to expand on the point of how the RSPs, for example, are communicating with businesses and employers in terms of the Welsh language, something that might be of interest to you in terms of the surveys we saw—there is a question there for businesses on how they intend to, or how they aim to, increase use of the Welsh language in accordance with the aims of Cymraeg 2050. Now, it's a fair question, but it takes for granted that employers do know what the Cymraeg 2050 objectives are, and that they know how to go about increasing use of the Welsh language. This is not information that—we, perhaps, think everyone knows this information, but we can't take it for granted that employers do. So, it is important that, as the partnerships do go about engaging with employers, they have this central position within the system, so that they are the nexus of information, where the information from employers flows to create an evidence base for post-16 provision. It's essential also that they communicate with employers, that they promote information sources, that they connect employers with relevant sources of information. They don't have to have expertise in everything, but it is essential that they connect people with the relevant information.

I don't know if you want to say something about the promotion work.

Na. Hynny yw, buaswn i'n ategu'r hyn mae Ania a Dafydd wedi'i dweud, felly, ond, o ran ein hymwneud ni o ran y comisiynydd trwy'r gwaith hybu dŷn ni'n ei ymwneud â'r trydydd sector a'r sector preifat, felly, ac mae'n profiad ni yn fanna—mae gennym ni ddarn o waith, o waith ymchwil, sydd wedi casglu safbwyntiau pobl o'r sector busnes, er enghraifft, ac maen nhw'n gweld y fantais, ond yn amlwg mae angen cael y drafodaeth yma i fod yn—. Mae angen bod yn wybodus ynghylch beth mae bod â sgiliau yn ei olygu iddyn nhw, felly.

Dwi'n meddwl, i fynd yn ôl, mae'n y mater yna o gyfathrebu. Mae angen i fyfyrwyr allu gwneud penderfyniadau deallus ar sail gwybodaeth ac, yn yr un modd, mae angen i gyflogwyr fod yn ymwybodol o'r manteision bod â sgiliau dwyieithog, a'u bod nhw'n gweithio trwy gyfrwng y ddwy iaith. Felly, mae yna rôl fan hyn i fod yn cyfathrebu, mewn ffordd, i fod yn pontio rhwng y cyflogwyr a'r dysgwyr.

No. That is, I would endorse what Ania and Dafydd have said, but, in terms of our involvement in terms of the commissioner through the promotional work that we do with the third sector and the private sector, our experience in that regard is—we have a piece of research that's gathered people's points of view from the business sector, for example, and they see the benefit, but, clearly, we need to have that discussion to be—. They need to be informed about what having the skills will mean for them.

So, I think, going back a step, it's important that we communicate. Students need to be able to make informed decisions based on information and, in the same way, employers need to be aware of the advantages of having bilingual skills and working through the medium of both languages. So, there is a role here to be communicating, to be a bridge, in a way, between the learners and the employers.

11:20

It's on the bridge between the learners and employers that I ask my question. Are there enough lecturers and teachers to teach all the subjects through the medium of Welsh? I ask this question from an informed basis, because I have it on really good authority, from somebody who fits in this space, teaching teachers of science to teach through the medium of Welsh, and it is the case, so I'm informed, reliably, that the students are dropping out because they're finding the challenge too great. And also that there is a huge lack—. And these students are the teachers of the future. Therefore, this person raised concerns with me about our provision, particularly in those subjects, because that was his area, for being able to teach through the medium of Welsh within the science sector. 

I think the simple answer to your question is: 'No, there are not enough Welsh-medium teachers.' And I think there is a significant challenge for Welsh Government in how it addresses teacher training in particular to ensure there are enough teachers in place. That's the simple answer. The slightly more complex answer is: what we've been doing in higher education for the last five years is supporting new lecturers into the profession, both with a staff development programme, a PhD programme, and other activities. And by now, we are now in a position where we can effectively offer every subject in the university, at least in part, through the medium of Welsh, but it's taken—. We were established in 2011; it's taken eight years of deliberate effort and Government investment to get to that point. 

There's a challenge in terms of teacher training in particular. The number of teacher trainers are falling—the number of those training to be teachers is falling, rather than increasing. And then the ambition of the new curriculum and of developing Cymraeg 2050 is far beyond even the current numbers. So, it isn't—. And then, of course, that impacts on—. If you've got students who have studied at 14 years of age in English because there aren't enough teachers, when they turn to your further education college, they're less likely to go back into studying through the medium of Welsh. So, there is a challenge there, but it's a challenge we're seeking to address in the post-16 sector, but it is something I'm aware is on the radar of the education Minister and the education committee, and it's something that, in due course, will have to be addressed if the ambitious target of 1 million speakers is going to be met in some form or another.

Buaswn i'n ategu hynny. Mae hi fel ein bod ni'n mynd tuag at argyfwng, mewn gwirionedd, o ran yr athrawon sy'n medru dysgu trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg. Yn sicr, mae'n bryder o safbwynt datblygiad y cwricwlwm newydd at y dyfodol mewn ysgolion Cymraeg ac, wrth gwrs, mewn ysgolion sydd yn ysgolion lle mae mwy o'r cwricwlwm yn cael ei ddarparu trwy gyfrwng y Saesneg neu'n ddwyieithog, uchelgais y cwricwlwm newydd a strategaeth 2050 i greu mwy o siaradwyr Cymraeg a'r pwyslais sy'n cael ei roi ar y sector Saesneg. Felly, dwi'n meddwl, yn sicr, fod angen edrych ar sut mae mynd ati o ddifri ar hyn o bryd i fod yn cynyddu'r nifer sy'n medru dysgu trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg ymhob sector addysg.  

Yes, I would endorse that. It seems that we are heading towarsa a crisis point, really, in terms of the teachers who are able to teach through the medium of Welsh. It's certainly a concern from the development of the curriculum perspective for the future in Welsh schools and, of course, also in schools where more of the curriculum is provided through the medium of English or bilingually, the ambition of the new curriculum and the 2050 strategy of creating new Welsh speakers and the emphasis put on the English sector. So, I do think we need to look at how we really go about increasing the numbers who are teaching through the medium of Welsh in every sector of education. 

Gaf i jest ychwanegu hyn—gair sydyn iawn: mae lot o sylw wedi bod ar y gweithlu addysg yn y sector statudol. Nawr, os ydych chi'n chwilio am faint o bobl sy'n medru dysgu trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg yn y sector addysg bellach a dysgu seiliedig ar waith, y gwir amdani yw does gennym ni ddim data eto achos dim ond nawr mae'r Cyngor Gweithlu Addysg ar fin cyhoeddi'r data yma. Felly, ar hyn o bryd, dydyn ni ddim—o leiaf, dwi ddim yn ymwybodol o ffynhonnell data sydd yn gallu gweld pa ganran sy'n medru dysgu trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg.

Nawr, rydym ni'n gwybod bod y coleg wedi adnabod hynny fel problem ac yn bwriadu mynd i'r afael â'r broblem yma, ond ar hyn o bryd, mae lot o sylw ar y sector addysg statudol, ond o ran addysg bellach a dysgu seiliedig ar waith, rydym ni'n gwybod, er enghraifft, fod argaeledd tiwtoriaid yn broblem o ran cynnig prentisiaethau cyfrwng Cymraeg, ond nid dŷn ni ddim yn gwybod beth yw graddfa'r broblem, fel petai. Ac mae hyn, yn amlwg, yn rhwystr os ydym ni'n ceisio mynd i'r afael â'r broblem o gynllunio'n effeithiol ar gyfer y cynnydd. 

Can I just add, briefly, a great deal of attention has been given to the educational workforce in the statutory sector, but if you're looking at how many people can teach through the medium of Welsh in the further education sector and the work-based learning sector, the truth is that we don't have the data, because it's only now that the Education Workforce Council is about to publish those data. So, at present, we're not able—or, certainly, I'm not aware of a data source where we can see what percentage can teach through the medium of Welsh.

Now, we know that the coleg has identified that as a problem and intends to get to grips with it, but, at the moment, a great deal of attention is given to the statutory sector, but in terms of work-based learning and the post-16 sector, then we know, for example, that there's a problem in terms of providing apprenticeships through the medium of Welsh, but we don't know the scale of the problem. And this is clearly a barrier if we're trying to get to grips with the problem of planning effectively for increasing the number of Welsh speakers. 

11:25

Can I thank you for your time this morning? A transcript of proceedings will be sent to you. Please review that, and if there's anything you want to add, then please do let us know as a committee. But diolch yn fawr. Thank you for your time with us this morning. 

Diolch yn fawr iawn.

Thank you very much. 

We are still in public session, but if I could just say that Hefin's going to start this session off, then Joyce is going to come in. And, Bethan, you've indicated what questions you want, but just to let you know that Joyce is also going to cover the block of questions in area 6, so it might affect the questions as well that you want to ask.  

Yes, I've got you for five, but Joyce is coming in first on six, because it links in with some earlier questions that she wanted to ask. 

5. Partneriaeth Sgiliau Rhanbarthol: Anghydbwysedd rhwng y Rhywiau, Cynhwysiant a Dysgu Gydol Oes
5. Regional Skills Partnerships: Gender Imbalance, Inclusion and Lifelong Learning

I move to item 5 with regard to our inquiry on regional skills partnerships. And for this session, we have two witnesses before us. Perhaps if you could just introduce yourselves for the public record.  

I'm David Hagendyk. I'm the director of the Learning and Work Institute Wales.

I'm Cerys Furlong. I'm the chief exec of Chwarae Teg. 

Thank you for being with us this morning. I'll come to Hefin David for the first set of questions. 

In your views, with regard to the problems of gender imbalances with access to work and learning, and also with equality of access for those people with disabilities, do you think the role of learning and skills partnerships are clear, and can you outline what you think those roles should be?

If I slightly separate out the question in terms of whether the role is clear and then what they can do around the gender aspects of work and skills—. No, I don't think the role is clear, and I don't think that's clear to organisations like us trying to work in the skills and work arena; it's certainly not clear to those who are not full members of those skills partnerships. So, in terms of trying to find out information about how they're run, how they're governed, what they're covering, what their thinking currently is, is sometimes quite difficult, and perhaps over-reliant on personal relationships between members of staff in the organisations.

And things change quite quickly, so just to give you an example, we weren't aware that the Learning, Skills and Innovation Partnership had, essentially, transferred into the Cardiff capital city region, even though I'm a member of a sub-group of the city region; that was slightly embarrassing. And we had previously engaged with LSkIP and been to a number of their events, so I think there's more that could be done there, recognising that they are not necessarily that well resourced. So, it's not a criticism of the individual members of the RSPs, but it's a challenge for them.

In terms of the gender nature, I don't think they're given a strong enough steer about their role in addressing the gender nature of skills and work. So, what I would say is the status quo is very good at defending the status quo, and perhaps they need to be given a much clearer steer that it's not about thinking about whether the skills provision is equally available to different genders or different groups of people, but what, practically, providers of anything using public funds are doing to reduce inequality, including how men and women, girls and boys, access different types of education provision and, therefore, different types of job roles, ultimately.  

11:30

Yes, I tend to agree, I think, around the role and purpose. The challenge for us, I suppose, is that on those two aspects—gender and disability—they are both Wales-wide national priorities. So, for the Welsh Government to become a feminist Government, and disability challenge for the employment plan—these are both identified as national challenges and national priorities, and I'm not convinced that that has fed down into the work of the regional skills partnerships to make those priorities, and make it explicit that this is part of their role. I don't necessarily see that as a—. It is a criticism of regional skills partnerships, but I think it's also a recognition that they are not resourced sufficiently to do all the things that we're asking them to do. I think they are very small teams and I don't think they are resourced properly to be able to carry out a huge range of tasks that we would like them to do. Part of the challenge, I think, a little bit goes back to Welsh Government to say that, if you want them to do more around gender and equality and want them to do more around inclusion of disabled people in the labour market and retention of disabled people in work, I think we need to throw it back at them and say, 'How do we resource them properly?' Again, I think particularly around gender, you can see that there is, partly because the work of Chwarae Teg, a growing national priority around this kind of feminist Government and I think that's really welcome and I can see momentum there.

Around disability, I think this is not just a regional skills partnerships challenge—it's a challenge for everywhere. We were supposed to have, in the employment plan, a target for disability employment by the end of last year. As far as I'm aware, that still isn't forthcoming. So, I think there is a challenge for Government, that if it wants to take inclusion of disabled people in the workplace seriously, there needs to be a national leadership role as well as actions at a regional level. 

Okay. And would you say that this is a consistent issue across the three partnerships equally or would you say that one partnership is better than the other, particularly with the way you engage with those partnerships?

I think it's a challenge for all of them and it's probably not helped by the fact that they look and feel quite different—understandably so, because they're to reflect the needs of their region, but certainly when I've been engaged with some of them, not least because of my previous role in the education and skills sector—. There are many other people in my organisation who don't know that these three different regional skills partnerships are all essentially the same kinds of bodies, because they look and feel so different. Their websites are quite difficult to understand sometimes and to find information. So, yes, I think there is more that could be done there.

Yes, certainly, I think some of the findings from the recommendations from the John Graystone review would be helpful in terms of just being able to have a more consistent approach to accountability and transparency across the regions. They obviously need to be able to adapt to do what's right for their region rather than having a standard template, but I think, certainly, having a more consistent approach to engagement would be very, very helpful, I think in particular around their engagement with adult learning and adult community learning. They're pretty good at engaging with the work-based learning providers and further education. I think they're not quite so strong and I think it's all across the board—they're not as strong at engaging with the adult learning sector. 

Do you think that part of the problem might be that they don't necessarily have a mandate to deliver on gender and disability?

I think partly, and I think it's partly about national leadership as well. They are public bodies in receipt of public money, and not just that—they're also responsible for helping to steer a significant amount of public funding and where that goes. I think that if there was clearer national leadership—and I would say, in fairness, on gender, I think actually there is that leadership now, but I'm not convinced we're there yet on disability in particular. Regional skills partnerships will not only reflect what regions need; they will also reflect, I think, national priorities. So, I think on disability in particular, there needs to be a much stronger lead nationally and that then needs to be reflected back by regional skills partnerships. But there is, I think, a challenge there of accountability: who are they accountable to? At the moment, I'm not entirely clear that there is a strong enough accountability mechanism that they are held to account for and actually that they take or don't take.

Yes, I agree with all of that, and I think perhaps we'll get into some of the difficulties around what they're tasked with doing later, in that it is very difficult to do some of the labour market analysis that regional skills partnerships are expected to do. It is difficult to meet the needs of local employers, but that's particularly not helped when you have the same faces around the table all the time. Education providers will be driven by the funding methodology and the targets and the things that they're tasked to do by Welsh Ministers, and trying to align that with national priorities plus accurate labour market information is challenging—we recognise that. But there's an important role in engaging with wider voices, whether that's in adult community learning centres or whether that's in disability and inclusion. I completely agree with Dave's points on that—or the kinds of points that third sector organisations like us would make about gender. 

11:35

You do mention, Cerys, in your evidence that partnership boards, which is where this might be at, should be gender balanced, and I'll add in that there should be disability within that. Do you think that that might help change the way that things are delivered and thought about, or thought about then delivered, and do you have any supporting evidence?

There's masses of evidence about how diversity and gender balance leads to better decision making. Getting a broader spectrum of opinions, priorities and experience necessarily results in different outcomes. I think—and this is a positive—given the close working relationship that a number of the members of regional skills partnerships, education providers and employers already have, trying to get out of that usual group think, the way we've always done things, defaulting to a kind of status quo delivery, is really hard if you don't have different voices around the table.

My view, and I think there's evidence from Ewart Keep and other academics around this, is that if we just continue with the same way of delivering skills as we have done broadly in Wales and other parts of the UK for decades and decades, we'll get broadly the same outcomes. Actually, what we want to use skills funding for is to address some of the imbalances and inequality and to result in different outcomes, so that we can improve our economic prospects but also improve social outcomes for different groups of people.

I agree with all of that. I would extend it as well a bit. I think there's a risk that the regional skills partnerships don't reflect the commitment to social partnership in Wales as well. I don't think they are employer led in some parts, I'm not convinced that the trade unions have a strong enough voice within that as well. I think it's important that both sides of the industry are reflecting some of their work. That, I think, will also hep with gender diversity.

Can I just add to that? On the particular issue of labour market analysis, which is key to the function of RSPs, at a very basic level women and men, and different types of women and different types of men, are currently over and under-represented in different types of sectors and industries. Therefore, if you have a more diverse group making decisions about that, you're more likely that those decisions are going to reflect the different needs of women and men in different industries. So, if you have an over-dominance of decision makers who come from more or less broadly similar backgrounds, group think does emerge.

Do you think then that this is an issue sufficient now to warrant some intervention, because mostly they are voluntary and non-statutory boards?

I'll highlight one of the things that's emerged out of the gender equality review, both the first phase findings and the work that's currently ongoing in phase 2, that is saying that public bodies have to lead by example, but more importantly a shift in thinking and action from equality of opportunity to equality of outcomes.

So, it's not just enough to think about, 'Is what we provide available to all types of people?', but more importantly, 'Is what we're doing going to have a different impact on different groups of people, and if so what are we doing to mitigate that?' It's making sure that we have the desired outcome that is equality, not just that we're making everything available—that shift in thinking should be embedded within RSPs.

I think, yes, there needs to be some kind of intervention, but I think you've got to think very carefully about what that is and what we want these bodies to be. There is a risk that you make them statutory bodies, then they become like every other statutory body, and I don't necessarily think that making them statutory solves the problem about accountability and transparency—well it perhaps solves accountability, but does it solve transparency, does it solve problems of inclusion? I'm not sure that doing one thing necessarily leads to an improved outcome.

I think there's an interesting conversation around post-compulsory education and training reforms as well, maybe we'll get onto that later, but I think that is a really big conversation about where the regional skills partnerships fit and what they look like in the new PCET body. I think they're potentially—for intervention, that's the opportunity to intervene and to do something perhaps a little bit different.

Cerys, you talk about gendered aspects of the foundational economy. Where do you see the partnerships being able to make some recommendations?

I suppose just to clarify what we mean by gendered aspects of the foundational economy: very simply, that women are over-represented in many parts of the foundational economy. So, look at industries like care, food and drink, catering, food and hospitality; women often make up the majority of the workforce and those are often lower paid and perceived to be lower skilled professions and occupations. What we do to address both the over-dominance of one gender in those and how we value and perceive opportunities to progress into higher paid work in those sectors is really important. So, I think there is a role for RSPs in thinking about that—how we value women's work, how we challenge that misconception that those industries are always low-skilled by default, which we know they're not. So, hopefully that answered your question. 

11:40

You've covered quite a bit of where I was going to question around, but I think if we can introduce a few figures into this, from the point of view of the disabled people. We've heard, in the past, that 24 per cent of disabled people in England are on apprenticeships, whereas it's something like 8 per cent here. So, obviously there is a great deal of catching up to do in Wales from that. Cerys, from Chwarae Teg, we heard from the skills partnerships that they were getting a big steer from Welsh Government to help push up GVA, but your evidence, Cerys, with Chwarae Teg, says that 

'£13.6 billion could be added to Welsh GVA...if we can achieve full gender equality.'

Now, you've talked a lot about where RSPs would come in that, but could you give us where you believe that RSPs could give the most added value to that, and where they're best placed to do it? 

We talk about how you apply a gender lens to thinking about any public policy intervention and the work of the RSPs, how we commission and provide skills and education, is no different. So, in the analysis that RSPs do, they often recognise that there's a gender imbalance in terms of the types of roles that women and men do in the types of sectors that they're in. But they don't go the next step, which is to say, 'Well, what can we proactively do in terms of targeting our interventions, our support, our provision to address that?'

So, why is it that still the majority of apprenticeships in construction, engineering and trades are men, and those in hair, beauty and care are young women? Rather than just say, 'Well, it's possible for men to do the caring apprenticeships and women to do the STEM-focused ones', how are we incentivising that? How are we using both carrot and stick to encourage and mandate our education providers to actually address that inequality? They do have a role, not just to recognise it, but to proactively do something about it. 

Yes, I agree with all of that. There is a risk that we ask RSPs to do too much in this area where they don't necessarily have the power to do that. As Cerys said, I think one of the most fundamental things you can do around apprenticeship progress is fix targets to what we expect of providers and employers, and that has proven to work elsewhere. I don't think Welsh Government have gone as far as they could have done around disability and gender, for example. I don't necessarily put this all on to regional skills partnerships, but there is a co-ordinating role for them within individual regions to ask more of FE colleges and work-based learning providers.

Where they can add on GVA is where I don't think regional skills partnerships have done particularly well, in recognising the value of skills acquisition at the lower end. We're still very, very focused on transitioning to high-level skills, which is absolutely important, but there is a pipeline involved there for a lot of individuals. They don't just automatically end on level 2, 3 and then progress. There are still huge numbers of people without basic digital skills, basic literacy, basic numeracy and they're the ones who are locked out of higher paid employment. They're the ones who are locked out of the kind of opportunities that are going to come from when automation and artificial intelligence start to really hit. In terms of GVA and addressing inequalities, I think where I would ask RSPs to do more would be around the lower end skills and really make sure there's a focus on entry level and level 1, 2 for people to progress on to higher skills.  

We've got about three lots of questions. I'll come to Bethan next, then I'll come back to Joyce, and then I'll come to Mark to finish off. Bethan.

11:45

Dwi'n credu bod lot o'r cwestiynau wedi cael eu gofyn, ond efallai gallwch chi ehangu arno fe jest o ran—dŷn ni'n ymwybodol o fewn y gweithle fod yna rai sectorau sydd yn cael eu blaenoriaethu ar gyfer menywod neu ddynion, ac mae hynny wedyn yn digwydd yn y maes prentisiaethau. Oes gennych chi farn ynglŷn â beth ddylai'r partneriaethau sgiliau fod yn ei wneud i gysoni hyn neu i amlygu'r ffaith bod prentisiaethau gwahanol ar gael i bob rhyw? Er enghraifft, mae yna'n dal rhai cyrsiau lle na fyddai dynion, efallai, yn teimlo'n gyfforddus i ymwneud â nhw oherwydd y stigma neu oherwydd eu bod yn ymwneud â menywod, a'r ffordd arall o gwmpas lle bod menywod efallai ddim yn cael eu cymell i wneud prentisiaeth mewn maes penodol. Felly, pa rôl sydd gan y partneriaethau i geisio tynnu sylw i'r opsiynau yn y meysydd gwahanol?  

I think a lot of the questions have already been asked, but perhaps you can expand a little just in terms of—we are aware that within the workforce there are some sectors that are prioritised for women or men, and that then happens in the apprenticeship field. Do you have an opinion on what the skills partnerships should be doing to make this more consistent or to draw attention to the fact that different apprenticeships are available for all genders? For example, there are still some courses that men wouldn't feel comfortable in following due to the stigma or due to it being related to women, and the other way around perhaps women wouldn't be incentivised to follow an apprenticeship in a specific field. So, what role do the partnerships have to draw attention to the different options in these different areas? 

Well, I think at first it's recognising that there is a problem and that there's something that, as providers of education around the table, they can do to address it. So, you're absolutely right, it's both getting more men into some industries as well as getting more women, and you can only address the imbalance that way. I think just saying, 'These are open and available for you to attend', is clearly not enough. So, there's issues around who's running courses, what does the facility look like, is it friendly to different sectors? If you're going into a hair salon as a man and it's all entirely pink and all the staff are women, are you really going to want to—? So, it works both ways. Similarly, if there's no female toilets on a construction site, as a young female apprentice, are you really going to feel comfortable in that environment? So, I think it's recognising it as a challenge and then really committing to doing something about it and not just saying, 'Well, anybody can apply.' 

Yes, I agree with that. I think there's a challenge for when women are applying for apprenticeships—we're not convinced that they're getting sufficient access to good careers advice and guidance when they're making those applications. Are they actually being encouraged to apply for a broader range of apprenticeships?

I'd step back a little bit, I suppose, because part of the gender distribution of apprenticeships also reflects the wider workforce, so I think one of the challenges we've seen in the analyses that we've done is that we're not actually breaking the mould here at all. We're investing huge amounts of public money in apprenticeship programmes and we're not doing anything to really shift the needle when it comes to where women and men are going and which sectors they're going into. So, part of that is about the advice and guidance, I think, that young women, in particular, get about where they can apply to. It's partly about role models. You can't be what you can't see, I think, to a certain extent. I think there's a role there for regional skills partnerships to draw out some of those best-practice examples.

Pay is a really big challenge as well. Apprenticeships are not that well paid and I think there's a big challenge there for women in taking a risk, at times, and going into some of these different sectors where they potentially haven't got a guaranteed job at the end. But also, I think we could be asking certain sectors and providers to do more in providing flexible, part-time opportunities for apprenticeships as well. How many part-time, flexible apprenticeships are there in the engineering sector, and would these be potentially more attractive to women, potentially with caring responsibilities as well? So, there's a whole range of things that we could do.

I think the role for regional skills partnerships is to co-ordinate all of that activity and to also hold work-based learning providers, colleges, providers to account at a regional level, to see what actual difference they're making. It's not only down to them, because part of the challenge is that it also reflects the workforce currently, but I think there's much more that we could do. But I'd come back to the point again that you have to underline that with targets to meet as well. Targets are really blunt instruments, but our experience is that, if you don't at least set an expectation of what should be happening and tie it to funding in some way, then change doesn't really come very quickly. 

Yes. The target absolutely has to be linked to the funding methodology, so there's no point saying, 'We set a target for apprenticeships like this, but actually Welsh Government prioritises funding in a different way, which necessitates a different outcome', which is the case currently. 

Dŷch chi'n sôn am y partneriaethau sgiliau, ond roeddwn i'n siarad â Phrifysgol De Cymru y diwrnod o'r blaen ac roedden nhw'n dweud bod angen mynd mewn i ysgolion gyda phlant pump neu chwech oed hyd yn oed, i roi'r opsiynau yma i blant. Roedden nhw'n siarad am y diwydiant gemau digidol. Os nad ydych chi'n cael eich trywtho neu'n gweld bod hyn yn opsiwn i chi pan ydych yn oedran ifanc, dŷch chi byth yn mynd i, efallai, erbyn cyrraedd oedran 16 ta beth, hyd yn oed feddwl mynd i mewn i'r sector yma. Fy nghwestiwn i yw, felly: ydy cynllunio ar lefel partneriaethau sgiliau rhanbarthol yn rhy hwyr ar gyfer rhai o'r pethau dŷn ni'n trafod yma o ran rhywedd, o ran lle mae pobl yn mynd? Onid oes angen iddo fe gychwyn yn lot cynharach? 

You talked about skills partnerships, but I was talking to the University of South Wales the other day and they were saying that we need to go into schools with five or six-year-olds possibly, to give children these options. They were talking about the digital gaming industry. Unless you're immersed or unless you see that this is an option for you from an early age, you may not ever, perhaps, by the time you're 16, even think of going into this sector. My question, therefore, is: is planning on the regional skills partnerships level too late in terms of some of the things we discuss here with gender, in terms of where people are going? Doesn't it need to start much earlier?

11:50

Yes. And that is a big challenge. That's not to let post-16 providers off the hook—they all need to be going into schools and talking to pupils at a much younger level. Dave talked earlier about role modelling and the importance of that—that's absolutely crucial—but also understanding what these different routes lead to in terms of jobs. I think there's quite poor understanding of what some of our career paths lead to in terms of potential job outcomes. So, if you talk to employers in the construction industry now about what are the kind of roles that they're going to need in the future, it's not as simple as the kind of apprenticeship and trainee routes that we're providing around construction skills or painting and decorating and whatever they might be. Some of them require quite a significant maths level. They're quite digitalised in terms of skills. And also linked to that is helping young people and education providers understand what some of those things pay—you know, what you can earn in some of these industries compared to others—because that has an impact on how young people make choices and I think sometimes there's a poor understanding of that.

Jest cwestiwn gen i o ran—. Hwn yw’r cwestiwn mawr, rili, o ran dewis dysgwr ac wedyn beth mae'r sefydliad neu beth mae'r partneriaethau yn cydnabod neu'n adnabod sy'n angenrheidiol i'r economi neu i'r dyfodol. Gallech chi roi cwrs peirianneg arno, ond os nad oes neb eisiau ei wneud e achos eu bod nhw eisiau gwneud rhywbeth arall, wedyn ble dŷch chi'n sefyll, wedyn? Felly, beth dŷch chi'n credu mae'r partneriaethau sgiliau yn gallu ei wneud er mwyn, efallai, siapio'r opsiynau, fel bod, efallai, rhai ohonyn nhw'n dod yn fwy deniadol, yn hytrach na'u bod nhw'n gwneud rhywbeth sy'n ddiddorol iddyn nhw ei wneud, ond, efallai, sydd ddim y mynd i arwain at swydd ar ddiwedd y dydd? 

Just one final question. This is the big question, really, in terms of learner's choice and then what the institution or what the partnerships recognise as being vital for the economy or for the future. You could put an engineering course on, but if nobody wants to do it because they want to do something else, where do you stand then? So, what do you think that the skills partnerships can do to shape, perhaps, the options, so that some of them, perhaps, become more attractive, rather than doing something that is interesting for them to do, but isn't going to lead to employment, ultimately?

We are just a little short of time, so it would be good if you could just briefly address the point.

I think the most important thing for me in that is access to advice and guidance support for adults in particular, and for young people, particularly around the transition for adults at different stages of their lives, whether it's returning to work after looking after children or their caring responsibilities. I think there are some key points for people, and if they have sufficient access to real-time data, information and advice and guidance, they're able to make those choices. As Cerys was saying, it's about the individual understating what a particular type of learning leads to—what kind of job opportunities and what progression it leads to. But I think that professional advice and guidance, which we're really, really rubbish at in Wales, about giving to adults, frankly—. We're okay with kids, but terrible for adults, and I think, probably, where regional skills partnerships could do the most is to co-ordinate and raise the standard and availability of that.

I agree, but there may also be more radical options. You look at what's happened in HE or teacher training over the years—we've incentivised different courses and we've made others more expensive. So, arts and humanities graduates subsidise medics, vets and engineers, as we know. So, if we want to plan the system, we should consider that, potentially, as well.

I'm going to come to the PCET reforms because there's going to be post-compulsory education and training reforms, and you mentioned them earlier, David. So, what role do you think that the skills partnerships should or could play once those reforms are set up and the new body established? 

I think, for us, we see there are three risks with PCET in that: it becomes the centralised body, where all decisions are taken in Cardiff; it becomes overly provider-led and not focused on employers and learners; and then it lacks transparency. So, I think, to address some of that, I think, if you didn't have regional skills partnerships, you're probably looking at it and thinking, 'We need to invent something at a regional level to be that interface between a national body and providers and local need and the national body.' So, I think, it seems to me that there's a really important role here for regional skills partnerships to do some of that work. I question whether there needs for it to be statutory—I think that's a debate to be had—but I think you would want those regional skills partnerships to be the way in which PCET understands local and regional need from the perspective of employers and individuals, not just from learning providers. It's that voice—that two-way communication—but it's also that regional co-ordinating body, because, otherwise, I think you risk having a central body in Cardiff—presumably in Cardiff—which just makes all of those decisions without an understanding of what the regional economies and local economies—the different needs that those economies have.

11:55

I agree. I don't have a lot to add, other than to say that I heard Dafydd Trystan giving evidence earlier about it not, also, always being about having a nameplate at the table to ensure that there's appropriate representation from different groups, but about how they are encouraged and expected to engage with smaller groups. So, you could put adult community learning much more firmly as part of the remit of every group, but would the Learning and Work Institute or any other organisation have the capacity to engage with all of those as effectively as we'd like? It's the same from a gender perspective, but it's about how you encourage them to come to us, look at the work we're doing and look at the evidence from organisations, not just the people around the table. 

We've mentioned, early on, the genedered nature of work. Have you got any evidence or examples anywhere that intervention, on a regional or national level, has made any difference within any sector whatsoever that has a heavy gender focus?

That's a really difficult question. I don't think there's a region in Wales—I don't think there's a local authority in Wales or a region in any other part of the UK that I can think of that has got this right, from a gender perspective, but what we do know is that intervention does work. So, accurate data is really important—we haven't talked about that, but I know we've mentioned it in our response. So, understanding where we are by sectors and industries—the one I always talk about at the moment, and I know the education Minister has also recognised this, is: why is the number of girls studying computer science dropping off and what impact does that have? Well, we know that there are fewer girls going into the tech sector, which is likely to be a growing and well-paid industry. What do we, therefore, do, and encourage our education providers to do to address those kinds of trends? Unless we understand and disaggregate the data by looking at gender, by looking at disability and by looking at the experiences of black, Asian and minority ethnic women and men, and why they're studying different things and why they're taking different routes, then we can't do anything to address it. So, first, let's get the data and the understanding right. 

You talked about targets and you talked about the construction industry—it's only 1 per cent on the shop floor. So, do you think the targets—? We've got a lot of data, so do you think the targets will drive the change? We've got enough data—it's coming out of our ears, quite frankly—we know the imbalances within both areas, so do you think that that's the way forward?

Yes, if it's linked to funding.

Yes, I completely agree—it's got to be linked to the funding.

We heard from previous witnesses—suggestions from their colleges—that people wanted to do hairdressing courses, which was given as an example, and then, perhaps, there's some pushback from the partnerships about actually whether we need so much provision in hairdressing, and there was certainly some concern that it was very female-dominated in intake. Should we actually we be considering reducing funding flowing from the partnerships to colleges for hairdressing courses or is that not appropriate, as an example?

That's a tough one, I think. No, I don't think, necessarily, we should. I think hairdressing gets a bit of a bad rap, actually, in terms of outcomes for people and transferability of skills, so, no, I don't think we should. But, equally, we should be very mindful of the disproportionate number of women who are going into those sectors. I wouldn't be in favour of reducing funding for particular courses, necessarily, because I'm not sure that's necessarily the way that kind of command-and-control element to it is what's going to work, but I do think we have to be very mindful that there's a risk that we disallow women from going onto those courses without having proper employability outcomes at the end of it, and we should be doing a lot more to challenge providers to diversify where women go.

Yes, I think that's right. So, what I was going to say—David's just covered it—is to think about, 'What are the outcomes of those courses for individuals?' Anecdotally, we meet a lot of young women who've said, 'I was encouraged to do this course, and actually what I've ended up doing is transferring to welding' or transferring, you know—. But it required an incredible amount of personal resilience to be able to remain committed to what they wanted to do, and they simply didn't have that adequate careers advice and guidance to say, 'This is an option for you as a young woman as much as it is for the 24 blokes on the course.'

12:00

Neither of you, in response to Joyce, gave an example of a sector or area that had done particularly well in terms of improving gender diversity and the training provision. I just wondered—in our data, we had, I think, farming seen traditionally as a male-dominated area, and we have data for agriculture, forestry and fishing of that being 79 per cent male. But in terms of the apprenticeships coming in, we had 140 male starts, 185 female starts—57 per cent female intake. Is something happening in that area that's positive and can perhaps be learnt from elsewhere?

I don't know, actually, on this one. I mean, it's interesting that the data for apprenticeship starts overall is around about 60-odd per cent, I think, isn't it, of all starts are women as well? So, there is a—. I think if you look at the number of staff, therefore, who are in health and public services, that's where the majority, or a significant number of women, are going. So, I don't know about farming and forestry. I'm happy to ask around and see if we can find any more information on that, but the numbers aren't that big, I wouldn't have thought. Some of the numbers who go there, they're not significant, so there could be a particular reason in a particular sector that isn't necessarily agriculture but it's an associated sector and that's the reason for that. But we'll certainly look at it.

We have a recent report from the Office for National Statistics that has suggested that women may be disproportionately affected by automation going forward. Is that a concern that you share, and could the regional skills partnerships seek to mitigate that?

Yes, that is a well-reported concern, and I think well evidenced, and I think particularly links to the point I was making earlier about women often being in low-paid, low-skilled jobs that are likely to be replaced by automation. So, what we do to upskill those women, how we help them transfer into growing industries rather than more in public services and care—it's really important that those things are all linked.

I mean, to quote Ewart Keep twice, I suppose, he presented to Professor Phil Brown's review on digital innovation a few weeks ago, and he talked about that, in terms of automation and digital and AI, it's going to be the active states that are better equipped to deal with this challenge than the passive states. I think it's a risk, actually, that we haven't done enough in Wales to be active enough in responding to this. For example, I think by 2030, 75 per cent of the workforce by 2030 are currently in work now. So, this is not something that you can fix by getting the school curriculum right and just getting schools right. You have to also invest in the people who are currently in work now, and I think there's not enough of that happening right now. We also know that the investment in adult education—you're more likely to receive training in work or in adult education if you already have higher levels of skills, and I think this is the challenge for automation. The people who are going to be affected first and hit hardest are those women, in particular, in part-time work who already have very low levels of skills. So, it's not something you can wait five years to fix or fix through the school system. I think we have to invest in lifelong opportunities right now, in order for people to be able to switch careers.

David, that might be your answer, already, to my final question, which is going to be: if you could select one thing that you think regional partnerships need to do in their development going forward compared to currently, what would it be?

Proactively look at how they address gender stereotypes in the different sectors and industries.

Yes, I probably should say lifelong learning, and that's really important around adult education, but I also think there's a huge pressing need around broader inclusion, particularly for disabled people. I mean, the gap between disabled people and non-disabled people in employment levels has not shifted. Although we are seeing more disabled people in work, their relative position in the workplace hasn't moved. We're not doing enough on this, and I think this is where regional skills partnerships should be doing more to understand that challenge and to ensure the appropriate investment.

And for lifelong learning, does that involve greater diversity of provision than courses at colleges and apprenticeships? What else do we need to be looking at?

12:05

I think it's also about flexible provision. It's not so much who the provider is, it's also about flexible provision. We've done some focus groups in the last couple of days with potential learners in Newport and Bangor, looking at personal learning accounts, and what's coming back from—. It's a really diverse group of people. One of the challenges that a lot of people have who are in work is that they don't have regular shift patterns, they don't have regular hours each week, they certainly can't do learning from 9 to 5 at a college, but they can't even guarantee to be there on a Monday afternoon, because they don't know what their shift pattern's going to be that week. So, there are real challenges about how colleges, work-based providers and others, and online learning, build flexibility into what they provide for adults. That, I think, is probably one of the bigger changes, and, at the moment, we still fund young people, I won't say disproportionately, but that is still the priority, that 16-to-19 area, and we're not investing enough in post-25 education at all. Part of that isn't just about investing and colleges putting on courses 9 to 5; it's also about them investing in flexible opportunities for learning.

I think we can learn from HE—not to put too much on one year's figures, but changing the funding methodology, changing the priority has seen a huge shift in part-time learner numbers in HE and a very different picture in England and other parts of the UK. So, you can make the change if it's a priority for us and if we change the mechanism by which the money flows and the numbers flow.

Okay, thank you. Can I thank the witnesses for their time this morning? There will be a transcript of proceedings sent to you, so please review that, and if you feel that you want to add anything to what you said this morning, then please do that as well. Diolch yn fawr. Thank you for your time this morning.

6. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(vi) i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o'r cyfarfod
6. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(vi) to resolve to exclude the public from the meeting

Cynnig:

bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi).

Motion:

that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

We move to item 6 and, under Standing Order 17.42, can I resolve that we exclude members of the public from items 7 and 8? Thank you.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 12:07.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 12:07.

Archwilio Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru