Y Pwyllgor Plant, Pobl Ifanc ac Addysg

Children, Young People and Education Committee


Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Buffy Williams
Heledd Fychan
James Evans
Jayne Bryant Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Ken Skates
Laura Anne Jones

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Abigail Philips Pennaeth Arloesi, Llywodraeth Cymru
Head of Innovation, Welsh Government
James Owen Cyfarwyddwr y Comisiwn Addysg Drydyddol ac Ymchwil, Llywodraeth Cymru
Director, Commission for Tertiary Education and Research, Welsh Government
Jeremy Miles Gweinidog y Gymraeg ac Addysg
Minister for Education and the Welsh Language
Jo Salway Cyfarwyddwr Gyfarwyddiaeth Partneriaeth Gymdeithasol, Cyflogadwyedd a Gwaith Teg, Llywodraeth Cymru
Director for Social Partnership, Employability and Fair Work, Welsh Government
Vaughan Gething Gweinidog yr Economi
Minister for Economy

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Claire Thomas Ymchwilydd
Jennifer Cottle Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Lucy Morgan Ymchwilydd
Michael Dauncey Ymchwilydd
Naomi Stocks Clerc
Philippa Watkins Ymchwilydd
Sarah Bartlett Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Sarah Hatherley Ymchwilydd
Siân Hughes Ymchwilydd
Sian Thomas Ymchwilydd
Tom Lewis-White Ail Glerc
Second Clerk

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.

Cyfarfu’r pwyllgor yn y Senedd a thrwy gynhadledd fideo.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:16.

The committee met in the Senedd and by video-conference.

The meeting began at 09:16.

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

Croeso i gyfarfod y Pwyllgor Plant, Pobl Ifanc ac Addysg heddiw. 

Welcome to this meeting of the Children, Young People, and Education Committee today. 

I'd like to welcome all Members to the meeting of the Children, Young People, and Education Committee. The public items of this meeting are being broadcast live on Senedd.tv, and a Record of Proceedings will be published as usual. The meeting is bilingual, and simultaneous translation from Welsh to English is available. There are no apologies, but I'd like to welcome Heledd Fychan, who's joined us for her first meeting on the committee. Heledd replaces Sioned Williams, and I'd just like to place on record our grateful thanks to Sioned for all her work and her invaluable contributions to the committee over the last two years. Diolch, Sioned, and croeso, Heledd. I'm sure you'll enjoy being part of this committee and playing a full part in it, which we'll look forward to working with you on. 

Diolch, Heledd. Are there any declarations of interest from Members? I see no declarations of interest.

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

We have a number of papers to note, which is the first point on our agenda. All those papers to note are set out in the agenda and the paper pack. There are 11 papers to note, so I won't go through all of them, but are Members content to note the papers together? I see Members are. Diolch. 

3. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(ix) i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o eitem 4 i eitem 7, ac eitem 9 y cyfarfod hwn
3. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(ix) to resolve to exclude the public from items 4 to 7 and item 9 of this meeting


bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o eitemau 4, 5, 6, 7 a 9 y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(ix).


that the committee resolves to exclude the public from items 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9 of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

We'll now move on to the next item, which is the motion under Standing Order 17.42 to meet in private. So, I propose, in accordance with Standing Order 17.42, that the committee resolves to meet in private for items 4 to 7, and item 9. We will now proceed to meet in private. 

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 09:18.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 09:18.


Ailymgynullodd y pwyllgor yn gyhoeddus am 11:00.

The committee reconvened in public at 11:00.

8. Sesiwn graffu ar y cyd gyda Gweinidogion ar addysg a sgiliau ôl-16
8. Joint ministerial scrutiny session on post-16 education and skills

Croeso nôl.

Welcome back.

Welcome back to everyone to our committee meeting today. I'd like to welcome the two Ministers who've joined us this morning, and their officials. We're really pleased to have you along and very grateful to you for making sure you're able to accommodate us at short notice, and making sure your diaries were free for today. We're very grateful to you coming along. We have with us this morning Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, and Vaughan Gething, Minister for Economy. The officials we have are Jo Salway, director for social partnership, employability and fair work, James Owen, director, Commission for Tertiary Education and Research, and Abigail Philips, head of innovation.

Members have a number of questions to put to you this morning. I believe we have translation, and I'm sure you're all familiar with the translation. We'll make a start with some general questions on how you both work together and inter-ministerial working. So, the programme for government commitments within the well-being objectives are cross-Government responsibilities. How is cross-departmental working being encouraged and facilitated between your officials? I don't know who'd like to make a start. Jeremy.

Okay. Well, I'm sure we've both got some examples to describe, but I was thinking about how best to convey how it works in practice, because I think that's probably what you're most interested in. It seems to me that the most useful insight is, probably unlike Whitehall, that the departments of the Welsh Government aren't organised by ministerial portfolio in that external sense. So, there isn't an entirely separate economy civil service from an entirely separate education team. And in the areas that we're looking at today, we will often find that we're in meetings with civil servants who work both for the economy portfolio and for the education portfolio. So, there's a very high level of joint working and integration. There are also other structures, which we'll both give you examples of, but I think that's the fundamental point—the organisation of the civil service team is much, much more integrated than, perhaps, you might see elsewhere. Do you want to give some examples from your side, Vaughan?

Yes. So, some of that is by design, some of it is by necessity, from the creation of the Assembly, as it then was, and the Government, and the Senedd, as we now are. So, some examples: I'm the lead Minister for the young person's guarantee, but, obviously, large parts of the guarantee are delivered by Jeremy's portfolio responsibilities. So, we deliberately have programme boards around the young person's guarantee, as an example. Obviously, in Jo's work, as the lead director on employability and skills—the plan we have there—there is a deliberate and obvious crossover. And, of course, yesterday, you will have had Dr David's report in the Senedd that was debated. Now, Jeremy commissioned that report, but, obviously, some of that is relevant to me, because school leavers, when they leave school, they may have a range of choices to make. They may carry on, as lots do successfully in the world of further education, and Jeremy is, indivisibly, the lead Minister there. Others may go into the world of work. Others may carry on. But, obviously, I'm interested, and I'm the lead Minister for Careers Wales as well, which obviously has a function, an important one, within the school setting. So, there's a lot of crossover, and we try to make sure that, with that crossover, there is deliberate work between officials, and the way the Government is organised internally helps to support us by making sure we're not set up with competing briefings from entirely separate departments and we have to essentially fight it out. And then we also, from time to time, make time not just for our officials, but for the two of us to sit down and go through things as well.


It's really helpful to know how you do that. Perhaps you could give a few more examples about how you set and agree joint priorities in policy areas, and particularly where those programmes are joint funded. 

Well, I suppose a good example of that would be the personal learning accounts programme, which has been a very, very successful programme, and has gone from, I think it was, around £2 million or £3 million at the start to a programme that is now worth about £27 million a year. Obviously, it's delivered through the FE function, but it is designed, obviously, to skill people for the needs of the economy. And I think it's a very good example of where a policy has been able to be very responsive both from an education point of view and from an economy policy and skills perspective. And we were very keen to make sure that we trialled some new approaches in how that was designed. So, the gender budgeting aspect of it is pretty innovative, actually, and we were very keen to see, on a joint basis, how that could be explored through PLA, which has happened, I think, to some extent. There's more work that can be done in that. 

But with that, for example, we've been looking recently at how we allocate funding for that in future, and the advice will come to us both, and it will make recommendations, and we will both have perspectives on it, which we feed back to the same group of officials. And it will be, 'Should we be doing more of this? Isn't there a case for doing a bit less of that?' It's done in that very joint way. 

Another good example, I think, is the employment and enterprise bureaux, which are delivered through the FE stakeholder relationship in my department, but, actually, monitored, effectively, through—

—and funded, indeed, through Vaughan's department. So, there's a range of areas where there's close alignment from a policy point of view, sort of regardless of where the budget sits, because, in many of these, one budget will do more of the heavy lifting than the other, but, in very many of them, there's a contribution from both portfolio budgets as well. 

I'm the lead Minister for skills, but, then, in other times in the Government, the education Minister's been the lead Minister for skills. There's a recognition that it, obviously, crosses between the two domains, deliberately so as well, and it's essential that it does. So, as Jeremy described, there's the policy perspective, and, as well as in personal learning accounts, part of that has been delivering on our net-zero skills action plan, and we need to do more of that as well. So, obviously, there's a third Minister, in Julie James, who has an interest in what we're doing as well. But we're the Ministers that have to agree on the budget element of it, and then the delivery side of it. Actually, as an example, before last year's budget, Jeremy and I met with our special advisers, with advice from officials, around some of the challenges and all the difficult choices we had to make about choices that I would make. And to understand how those choices would have an impact, I had a conversation with Jeremy about PLAs in particular as part of it, to understand what our offer would continue to be. 

So, that's why I say it's deliberate, as well as us making opportunities to make sure we have conversations so we understand the impact across the wider piece. I think not many people will have heard of employment and enterprise bureaux, but they're called different things in colleges. So, actually, what matters isn't the language internally within the Government, but, actually, what that means for the learner, what it means for their opportunities, their engagement in the world of work whilst they're going through FE. And, actually, for that to work, we have to agree on that, and then we need to make sure that it's presented in a way that is appropriate for young people in the learning institution they're at, as a deliberate gateway into the world of work. 

So, it will always be essential. Even if the skills leadership were all reorganised into the education portfolio, whoever is in this side of the Government would need to have a proper relationship with that side as well. So, it's recognised as being essential.

I'm just interested in wider across Government, because, obviously, you two talk and work well together, we take it from what you've said. But there are skills gaps in health and social care, there are skills gaps in agriculture, in Julie James's portfolio in climate change. So, what work do you do right across Government to make sure that every Minister feeds into this, just so that it's not been driven by one department, but every department feels that they can actually feed into this to make sure we are filling the skills gaps right across the industries, not just in the two currently available?

Some of that is around the leadership of different departments and the sectoral relationship with the Ministers and the department. So, if you take health as an obvious example, there is a health workforce plan, and there are choices that the health Minister makes on the amount of money to put into funding future skills and learning programmes. There's a well-developed and understood process to do that, so actually, in that sense, the health Minister makes most of those choices. When we're talking about how the programmes should be run and what routes there are into it, well, actually, they may well be things where we need to have a conversation as well. So, if there's going to be a broader use of an apprenticeship route into healthcare professionals, then, actually, there will be a conversation both at official level and between Ministers. We need to understand how the funding works, and if you're designing or updating a pathway to apprenticeships, then there may be cost challenges in that and you need to agree the budget side of it as well as what you're trying to achieve in equipping people with skills that the sector needs, but also the person needs to be able to have a fulfilling career and to gain the experience they need at that time. It's the same conversation that takes place.

So, in every sector in the economy, whenever I have conversations with stakeholders, they always talk about the availability of people to do work. That's still a challenge for us, and it's why the conversation around migration and immigration is a difficult one, because of the practical needs of the economy, together with the challenges of employability and the people who are resident here in the UK and not in work. And, actually, the inactivity challenge—people who are economically inactive—is a big nut to crack, and that goes into a whole range of other policy areas. So, Julie Morgan is interested as regards childcare provision and a range of other things as well, and we're active further away from the labour market, as you know. So, actually, you've got to have a relationship not just within the Government but with the Department for Work and Pensions as well. So, in every area where you look at it, the availability of people and the availability of skills acquisition is part of it, and more and more sectors are saying that they will invest in people, if they can find them, and if the balance—. And this came up yesterday, definitely with Hefin David's report: what is the public sector, the Government, going to invest in equipping people with those skills, and what is it fair to expect the employer to do to invest in those skills and those people? It can't always be that the public purse has to deal with all of that as well. So, this is part of an ongoing debate. Even if we had more money to spend—. Without making a party political comment, if there were more money to spend, we'd still have to have that conversation. So, the two of us have to talk—whoever is in these two seats has to talk—but it is, you're right, a different conversation, but a necessary conversation that does take place with other Ministers and other sectors too.


I think you make a fair point. It is something that needs to be—. You have to be mindful of it, and it's not something that you can just assume will happen. So, just to echo the distinction that Vaughan is making, it's at ministerial level and, in a way, that's the more straightforward side of it. I mean, I talk to Eluned all the time about what we need to make sure about—the skill set the NHS needs and how that gets delivered by FE and different levels and so on. So, that stuff happens routinely.

But I think if you were to look, for example, at the work from a vocational qualifications perspective that's been happening, not most recently, but the made-in-Wales health and social care qualifications that were designed, I think everyone would accept there were some teething challenges with that. We may have discussed that in committee, actually. 

I think—my reflection, that is—the lesson to learn there is you need all the voices continuously engaged in that. So, it's the qualifications provider, obviously the education provider, but you also need the sector involved in a continuous dialogue to make sure that that's all aligned. So, that joint working needs to happen in all parts of the system, really.

You've given some good examples about where joint working does work well. Are there any areas where you do feel that more work should be done?

Well, I think that's one of them, in a way. But what I would say is—Vaughan's mentioned the Hefin David debate that we had yesterday, and the report is, I think—

I thought the debate was a good debate, if I may say, as well. It was very open and constructively critical, obviously, but also practical.

I think that is one example of a number of areas of policy development where I think continued close working is going to be important. So, on the response to that report, some aspects fall quite obviously into distinct portfolios, but a lot of it is about the relationship between employers and education providers, clearly. So, there'll be a need for close working in terms of the pathways there. The Sharron Lusher vocational qualifications review will report before the end of the term. It's clear from the discussions we've been having throughout that that is going to tell us, I think, some quite challenging things, which is what it's there to do, and will require close alignment between economy and skills policy and education policy. That will be essential.

And I think the third area I would specify in this context is, obviously, the establishment of the commission. So, at the end of this year, I'll be putting together the statement of priorities for the commission, which will shape its first period of activity. One of the strategic duties, obviously, is to make sure that education is being delivered in a way that supports an innovative and sustainable economy, so I'll be wanting input from Vaughan and his team in terms of how we shape that. So, I think there's quite a lot happening in this space at the moment in terms of policy change, and so continuing the way we've been working is going to be really important. 


So, innovation is an obvious area where there'll be continued work with Jeremy, but also with the new commission. Apprenticeship policy, the leadership of that, will still remain—some of that will still remain within the Government, so there'll be a need, again, for a conversation between Ministers and the new commission as well. I think in areas where we're talking about their success, that success doesn't happen by accident. You need to keep making sure that you're aware of the need to keep talking to understand that the left and the right hands know what each other is doing. And Jeremy is absolutely right. You've got the interactions within the Government, the interactions with the sector, providers, businesses and the voice of the learner as well to make sure that they're actually getting skills that are relevant to what they want to do in the workplace. You don't want to come up with a qualification and then get told when you turn up and say, 'I'm qualified to do this', that, actually, you've got lots more to do that you didn't understand. In all of those things, the quality matters because this is about how you improve people's life chances and choices, and the economic future we have as well. I think, at the moment, we are well sighted on things that work as well as things that we know deliberately need us to carry on working together. 

Thank you. On that subject. As we discussed in the Chamber yesterday with Dr Hefin David's report, it highlights the challenges of bringing together schools and employers, which you've just discussed. But could you maybe give us a little more on what sort of actions you think you might need to take to bring those links between employers and schools closer? One particular concern that we have, of course, is that a lot of the work experience pathways rely heavily on teachers and parental networks, which is a concern. As I said yesterday in the Chamber, and I'll just reiterate it because I think it's important, in some ways, that'll be very beneficial, depending on who's in the class and who's in the school, but in other ways, it won't, and it won't be targeting those children that we really want to open the eyes of and to have those pathways. Thank you.  

So, just to build on what we were saying yesterday, really, I think there are some very, very practical things in the report for us to implement, which is really great, obviously. I don't think anybody thinks that there is a lack of enthusiasm either by employers or schools to make the relationship work well. I don't think there's an absence of enthusiasm; it's pretty clear to me that everyone wants to be doing more, frankly. So, the question for us is: what is preventing that happening in a more systematic and universal way? And there are some obvious things that we can't do very much about, but there are some ways in which we can probably streamline that, and I think there were some good pointers in the report. 

I have to say that the report also, to be fair, does highlight some good practice that we could see being developed more broadly. We talked yesterday in the Chamber, didn't we, about Maesteg comprehensive and NPTC Group of Colleges and the work they do around construction. That's a really good example and there's some other work that the Tech Valleys project is doing in Ebbw Vale. So, it's not an area where there isn't good stuff happening.

On a practical basis, alongside commissioning the Hefin David report, there are two or three other things happening that I think will help with the broader picture. Firstly, a set of early insights analysis that we've done from a curriculum point of view into the curriculum and work-related experiences as part of the Curriculum for Wales. That'll be reporting, I think, in time for us to publish in September. So, there's a whole body of evidence that'll come from that. We've also done a piece of work around the relationship between teachers and their experiences of employment. I take the point entirely, by the way, that this can’t all be an extra level of things that we’re expecting teachers to do, but it is actually also important to make sure that—. At the end of the day, a young person is going to go for advice from a person who they trust, aren’t they? Whatever the job title is. And so it’s really important that we make sure that teachers have as broad an understanding of the options from an employment point of view, so that will be an important part of it, but that’s not the whole picture, obviously. So I think there are some very practical things just like that that we can do.


Okay, thank you. Do you think that perhaps a rethink on the role of Careers Wales—because obviously a lot of the things they do have been scaled back—do you think a rethink of how best you could utilise them going forward would bridge some of these gaps, with obviously the skill set that they already have?

Well, we've jointly agreed a programme with Careers Wales for them to do more on their approach to careers and work-related experience for people at school. And within this, I think the challenge is—. So, Careers Wales definitely have a role, but there is also a role for the school, and there’s also a role for employers in the sector as well, and how the sector understands how it can best interact. Because that sort of incidental or opportunistic experience, it’s great for people in those schools—you know, there are a lot of schools that don’t have all the opportunities in their parental group.

It’s also about the understanding. Some careers are established in people’s minds—an understanding of what an electrician and a plumber, what a teacher, what a nurse, what a physio do. They don’t all have to end up being Sam Rowlands, by the way. But you’ve also got a range of areas that I don’t think people do understand. So, when we talk in this committee about STEM subjects, I think most of our constituents don’t know what we mean in that language. But actually, talking about engineering, and talking about manufacturing, and talking about those careers, and then to be able to say—. And in this world, there’ll be things that people in this room don’t understand and haven’t heard of, but there are real opportunities in those sectors. And it’s how do you make that real for people, what does that mean, then, that our young people need to have in their minds to keep their minds open to these possibilities, and how do the sectors engage in that? And that is still about changing some of our perceptions.

So, Manufacturing Week will take place in September, and I hope everyone across party gets involved—a plug that Make UK, I’m sure, will be delighted to hear. But actually, lots of people’s impression of manufacturing is that it’s a dirty, heavy job. Most manufacturing now is clean, it’s not dirty, it doesn’t involve lots of physical lifting—some does, but most of it doesn’t—and that makes a difference about who you recruit and where you can recruit from. So there’s a big challenge in the understanding of not just learners in schools, but actually the parental generation, in understanding and guiding them to think openly about these sorts of choices. If you said to a group of parents, ‘The people in this class could end up having a great career in the cyber sector’, they might think that you want them to be computer hackers, and, you know, thinking about odd things they might have heard of before. Whereas, actually, there's a huge crossover in that sector, a whole range of areas, and in everything that I’ve just mentioned, there’s a need for cyber to be active, and a big crossover between that and the gaming sector, which Wales has real strengths in.

And the other thing, I think, is that we don’t always appreciate areas where we have international strength. On autonomous vehicles and the cyber sector, Wales punches well about its weight, and actually, there’s a challenge about people understanding that there’s a big opportunity to have a really successful career here in Wales, and the sector needs to be part of that, as indeed does our broader education system, that is, understanding the information that exists around it, too. And that’s part of what we are trying to do, but it’s not going to be one answer or one body that you can expect to do it on its own.

Yes. I just agree entirely on the point about how you can develop parents' understanding of what jobs are, because there is a risk otherwise, unless we achieve that, that we will make all the provision available, but we won't get the young people coming through to take up those opportunities. So, I definitely agree with that. 

I know that you raised yesterday the point about how we can start to do this at a primary level, and I agree with that; I think it needs to start very early in the school journey. So, Careers Wales has been doing some good work. They did a piece of work most recently, in February, with 320-odd schools on starting to open up their understanding at a primary level of what careers opportunities are, and we will all know, I think—. This is happening quite a bit, as far as I can see, in the floating wind sector at the moment, working with primary schools. I heard one company that was taking a local primary school to the beach and building some of the infrastructure on a small scale on the beach, and then floating it on the water, just to connect as part of the curriculum. And that's brilliant, because it touches all the bases from a curriculum point of view, but also those young people are going home and telling their parents about having built a turbine on the sea, and that just starts to have those conversations that help everyone to understand the opportunities here. It's a cultural thing, partly. I think it's really important. 


I can say, as a parent, though, it is hard sometimes to understand the world your children are growing up in, because it is so different to the one that we experienced. There are times when you need to have a bit of reality check that some things may not be possible—and my son has a very inventive imagination, which is wonderful—and at the same time being genuinely open-minded about things that he will see and other children will see and talk to their parents about, and not to say 'Well, that can't happen'. That's part of our challenge, and that open-mindedness isn't just about our children, it is about us as well. 

Absolutely. As a parent, I completely concur with you. It is a whole new world, isn't it? But I'm all for parental involvement all throughout school, as you'll know, but the new curriculum does lend itself to the fantastic opportunity of bringing in local employers into schools for projects, and that is an extraordinarily useful tool in this regard of bringing it all together. 

Just really quickly on the health and safety aspect, obviously that falls with the school at the moment, and that's a concern. So, if we're going to develop and open up these new pathways, we need to think about maybe who has responsibility ultimately for that. But how confident are you that careers advice in school does provide learners with the full awareness of options for future qualifications and that parity of esteem is being achieved between academic and vocational routes? Both or either of you. 

Look, we do regular reviews with Careers Wales about the level of awareness and the number of schools that engage with them. The challenge is how deep is that, and you can always get anecdotal evidence to satisfy whatever perspective you want to take. But it goes back to what do schools themselves do, what does Careers Wales do, and then are we actually seeing people who want to undertake opportunities. Some of that isn't about Careers Wales, it's the factors we were just talking about—the community you live in and the family that you grow up in have a bigger impact on your view of the world and the sort of career options you think you can do. And a lot of that is unconscious, so that's part of the challenge that we are dealing with and looking to address. So we have a leadership role, Careers Wales has a role, schools have a role. And I can honestly say that, in the more than a decade now that I have been here, I have definitely seen a noticeable and consistent change in the engagement of schools with employers, and there is a greater focus now, certainly in my own constituency, on looking at wanting to have opportunities for young people to see the variety of careers that exist, and the good thing is that that is in the different socioeconomic parts of my constituency and not just in one part of it. But there's still a need to do more in those parts that have a bigger challenge for their community. 

I think there is good stuff happening, but I think the clear message from Hefin's report, and I think probably from all of us talking to schools in our constituencies, is that there's obviously much more that we can do. You talked about the parity of esteem, I think, in a way, this is at the heart of some of the challenges here isn't it, because what I think we have to try and get to is a situation where, from a system point of view, the relationship between schools and colleges is more of a partnership. I think that's worked really well during COVID, by the way, in particular, at transition points, we've seen a lot of really good joint working. But there are some incentives in the system to put schools and colleges a little bit in competition with each other, and that varies. If you're in a part of Wales where it's entirely tertiarised and there isn't a sixth-form arrangement, then, I think those areas might have more scope for joint working in a way where those incentives to operate separately aren't quite so strong.

I think we need to find the quid pro quo, so that both schools and colleges can see that they will benefit the learner better by working more closely together. And the reason I'm saying that is, in a way, that goes to the heart of your question about equality of careers advice, because, really, what you will hear consistently is: how do we make sure that young people get objective, independent advice early on in their career through school so that they can start to think about the range of options. So, our job is to make sure there aren't any incentives in the system not to do that, and then it's about collaboration. The commission isn't the answer to everything, let's be clear. We can't be loading everything on this small group of people to solve all the challenges, right, but I think the fact that they also have a remit that covers sixth forms will change the relationship between schools and post-16 in a productive way, I think.

I'm sure we'll be asking questions around that a bit later as well. Laura. 

Just lastly, how are you ensuring that children, including those with disabilities, have that access to timely and good careers advice? We've received evidence through our recent inquiry already on disabled access to education and childcare that highlights that there's a shortcoming in this area. We talked yesterday, didn't we, of the need for better additional learning needs support when it comes to careers advice and work experience and looking for jobs and being placed in a timely way, and that pilot with job coaching is fantastic, but how do we ensure that the careers advice is there early doors so they can have that extra preparation time?


We touched a little bit on this yesterday, so we've done the job coaching evaluation, which we published in May. We're looking at that and what that means now about how we can extend that, but—. Well, this is for Careers Wales, really, but there's a lot of work that Careers Wales does specifically with young people with ALN. So, the What Next programme that they have generally, also specifically has an element that addresses the particular needs of young people with ALN. But there are some stats that I'm sure we can share that show us the level of contact between Careers Wales and young people with additional learning needs. Just to say—. I mean, this is Careers Wales, really, but just to say I think it's really important as part of our broader ALN reform that we make sure we get this right. There's a lot of good stuff happening, and the question now is what more we can do.

It would be good if you could share the statistics as well with the committee. We'd really appreciate that.

Vaughan, did you have anything you wanted to add briefly on that, or are you—?

No, I think Jeremy's covered it, and I appreciate you have other questions you may want to reach.

We have many other questions, and we'll go now to some questions from James Evans.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. Ministers, you probably hear me go on in the Chamber a lot about degree apprenticeships; they are something that I think are a great way for young people and to meet the Welsh Government's and everybody's lifelong learning goals to get the workforce upskilled. So, what I'd like to know from you is how are they being advertised to young people leaving school that they are an option for people to do and what the numbers are currently of people actually going into degree apprenticeships in Wales.

So, we're committed to expanding degree apprenticeships, in line with our programme for government. We're going to expand in construction and rail. We've got digital and advanced manufacturing and engineering already on the books, as it were. So, it's really about the sectoral approach at present.

In developing those degree apprenticeships, there will be a resource challenge as well, but we're committed to continuing to expand them. So, when we talked earlier about the budget conversations we had about personal learning accounts, that was because I need to consider that alongside the challenges we had in the apprenticeship programme with rising costs, and the reality that some of that money that we'd previously used wasn't there any more. And the choice I made was not to try to meet numbers, but to maintain the quality in the programme and to take an extra year to meet the overall target. I could have chosen to end or reduce the degree apprenticeship programme, to put on numbers at a different level. I chose not to do it because I think they are important.

I know Hefin David's ears must be burning, but, in the other committee, he asks about this virtually every time I appear there, and it's because he's taken an interest—you'll see from his report, he's really interested in the degree apprenticeships in rail. Again, it's part of the bargain and the future conversation of, 'What does a sector do? What does the Government do? What's the fair split in terms of investing in that person and their skills?' I haven't got to hand the exact numbers to—. I'm happy to write to the committee about the current numbers.

It's not just the formal degree apprenticeship programme, though, as well; it is about—. And this is why I come back to the point about employers and sectors investing in people as well. Again, it's not just about front-line staff; there's a real need to invest in leaders and managers through their working life. Lots of the people that I meet in a range of our advanced manufacturing sectors have degree-level qualifications, because they often come through a further education route at the outset, they then go in, they acquire skills, there's extra learning, and so if you went to—. There's no-one here from north-east Wales, so I can talk about it. If you went to Broughton, you'd find a number of people with degree-level qualifications at the Airbus site, because it's a company that's invested in what they're doing. So, that's why I think Hefin and his report, part of the challenge is, and his interest in the ETRA committee is, 'I want to see more of this, because there's good evidence about the economic return of it.' And it is about how our resources match up to what we're able to do whilst meeting our programme for government commitments.

So, by the end of this term, you will definitely see an expansion in degree apprenticeships, and I think you'll also see more about the next areas, where we'll look to develop and have developed degree apprenticeship frameworks. There'll be an honest challenge about how we use resources within the budget to expand this area and/or others as well. But, as I say, we have chosen to protect those higher level degree qualifications, and not simply go for a dash for numbers.


Part of your question was about what we're doing to encourage students to take degree apprenticeships as well. So, I don't know if you were in the Chamber when we discussed this yesterday; the Seren programme, which has been very successful in getting the brightest learners to the best universities, we are looking at what we can do so that Seren can encourage the brightest learners to take vocational options at higher level as well.

And the reason that's important is, obviously, it'll help support what Vaughan has just said in terms of our ambition to expand degree apprenticeships, but I think the real benefit of it is it is making a systematic commitment to saying, 'You should be looking at a vocational or an academic route whatever your ability', so we are breaking the link between saying, 'If you're at the brightest end of the range, you should be thinking academic route only.' I think that's really important. You talked about parity of esteem; that is what it means, it seems to me.

And it's about—you know, this phrase, 'the brightest', those are people who are academically gifted. There are other people who are fantastically gifted in other ways.

And I say this as a parent: if my son does a job he's happy in, I'll be delighted. I don't care what sector it's in. I don't care whether he goes on to further or higher education, I want him to be happy and successful in his life. And he may well have—. I and his mum are lawyers; I don't want him to be a lawyer—that's what I am and I want him to be happy, and it may well be that—[Laughter.] Apart from anything else—. But he may end up being an engineer, and, if he was, I'd be delighted. He may never go to a university, and have a great career.

So, actually, it's this thing about—coming back to the central challenge in Hefin's report, and something that we are deliberately trying to do in Government—how do you get impartial advice that recognises the skills and the abilities of that learner, and where is the right place for them to go to develop that skill for themselves as well as for the economy and the wider society. And some of us need to unlearn the language we've had drummed into us about, 'If you're bright, you do this', whereas, actually, that's the—. And it is difficult, isn't it? Because we regularly slip into using it, don't we, all of us. And yet, actually, if your real ability is in something else, but that doesn't come with an A-level, you're still fantastically capable and you can still do something, and most of us are able to do something well; although, in questions in the Chamber, you're often regularly accused of not being capable of doing anything, but we can be a bit more generous in this setting, I think.

What I'm interested in, though, is what enthusiasm is there in the HE sector and with our colleges as well to deliver these degree apprenticeships as well, because it does take two to tango here. The Government can be very keen to do this and drive it forward, but if there isn't that enthusiasm in our colleges and higher education sector, it's not going to be delivered. So, it's probably a question to you, Jeremy.

I think there is. I think there is. It's not unconditional, is it, because it's a different model, so let's be realistic about that aspect. But I don't think the issue here is a lack of engagement from providers at all, actually. So, I think that's not our challenge. Actually, as Vaughan was saying, it's the perennial challenge of allocating budget to different competing priorities of important things. The choices we're making aren't between the important and the unimportant; they're between things that often are equally important.

Jeremy is completely right; it's not about a lack of enthusiasm. It is that degree apprenticeship routes cost money, but also it's the people you have as well. So, you're not just redeploying a budget, you're often redeploying people to design new pathways, then to implement them as well. So, that is part of our challenge. So, the sector is happy and willing and wants to do more of this, but it obviously can't and won't do it for free.

No. A lot of the sector wanted to do more; the framework that we currently have only sets up for the two types of degree apprenticeships, in digital and advanced manufacturing and engineering. Obviously, in England, it's very broad, as to what they do. I did a quick list; on UCAS, it goes from everything from business and management to marketing to finance, health and social care. And I'm interested in what areas are the Government—. I know you talked about rail; what other areas are the Government looking to expand into? Because I think that is the way that may get more uptake as well in degree apprenticeships, giving people wider options than just digital or engineering. There are lots of other options. I know there are a lot of people currently working in management or in certain roles who get stuck, because they cannot move on; they don't want to give up full-time employment to go and have to do a full-time course in university, and some of these routes, with management and customer services and different things like that could help. But I'm interested in what are the Government's plans to expand, and what areas are you going to expand in.


Well, we've already talked about construction and rail and digital. Two of those are coming on-stream—at least two of them are coming on-stream—next year. And I just think we need to be a little bit cautious about comparing Wales and England on this, because experience suggests, I think, that quite a lot of what's happening over the border is rebadging of existing provision. So, we—this is your policy, but—we should just be cautious about that, it seems to me.

Jeremy is right. So, rail is coming online in January 2024; construction and digital in September 2024. And we'll, of course, evaluate as we go along. And there is, like I said, a conversation about if there are other areas. I think some of the points you're making, though, with respect, are about what do businesses want to do to invest in their people and how you actually have learning opportunities that fit around the rest of someone's life, and that doesn't necessarily mean a degree apprenticeship programme. So, if you're a leader or a manager, there are courses that are run that are part-time courses that can be done to give you a qualification and a new perspective to allow you to advance in work. And if you go along to Cardiff Business School, you will find a range of those courses—you could walk there to go to the business school and you could find a range of courses that are available at different times. They don't all require people to leave their job to do that. 

And this challenge is there and recognised. And if you think about it from the other perspective, in nursing, the move to having a nursing degree was widely welcomed—it's a graduate profession. And then actually, for some people, there was a challenge then in making sure that the route to that was still accessible, so you didn't have to be a traditional learner going in at 18, 19, going to university, because, actually, the average age of entry for nurses and midwives is in their late 20s. So, often, people have got life experience, which is often really useful, and it's something that you want and, at the same time, it's often people with other responsibilities as well. So, actually, we have developed in Wales, and in other parts of the UK too, a way for people to be able to learn while they're still earning—carrying on working in bands 2 and 3 in the health service, whilst gaining a qualification, or outside as well. So, actually, those different routes don't all rely on a degree apprenticeship; it is how we organise the different parts of our qualifications system to equip people whilst still being in work, because, as I said, most of our constituents don't have the ability to take a full-time course.

I respect what you say, but, for a lot of constituents who I talk to, they can get stuck, they say, in employment sometimes. To move on to those better skilled jobs, yes, you can do Institute of Leadership and Management courses and different things in leadership and management, but a lot of those higher skilled jobs do require that degree-level education. So, the only way they can access that job is via the degree apprenticeship route, because you can't go for a certain job with an ILM. Because one of my constituents came to me the other week—they didn't recognise it; you had to have a degree.

But you did mention, though, about accessibility. What we're asking with degree apprenticeships—. Only 14 per cent of people going into that are female. We need to get more women going into degree apprenticeships too, because it's very important that we upskill everybody right across the workforce and make sure that we are enabling women as well to come into more leadership roles and give them the opportunity to advance, because we do live in an equal society and that needs to be reflected. So, I'm interested in what the Government is doing to make sure that we can get more women taking degree apprenticeship routes. I think that's really, really important and I'd be keen to know what the Government's doing on that.

Well, I think we want to live in an equal society—we currently don't. Your point about 14 per cent of degree apprenticeships are women is a reflection of that. So, there is a point about our cultural change that is important as well, as well as the proactive measures we are looking to take to do that. So, it is both about the points that Jeremy talked about, about the work taking place in schools, where you have younger learners, it is the parental conversation, and equally it is about sectors being more proactive. 

And I'll give an example. A few months ago, I had a conversation with a group of businesses that recognised they weren't doing well enough on getting women into their workforce: professional, manufacturing, engineering. And some companies were talking about the experience they'd had in running a deliberate and specific proactive recruitment campaign, but also a deliberate campaign in local schools about recognising that there are careers, there are women in this sector, so you don't have a 50-year-old man turning up and saying, 'There's a great career in my sector for you', because, actually, that mostly turns people off. So, actually, you have people who look like you saying, 'I work in this sector'. They still find it really hard. So, it is both about our proactive measures, but then understanding whether they're successful or not. That's why the voice of the learner is really important—to understand why people don't take those options up, as well as what we continue to do. So, I'm very keen, and I'd welcome this and the Economy, Trade, and Rural Affairs Committee continuing to take an interest in how successful we are being, as well as those sectors themselves, to understand the range of actions they're taking. And because we're not making the progress we want to, is it that we'll carry on doing things that will move the dial slowly forward, or are there different things we need to do? Because I don't think we should try to say we have all the answers and everything will be well in a couple of years' time. I think the change will take longer than that, but I'm impatient to see that shift happen, because I know there's a lot of objective evidence that workforces with a more equal number of men and women are more successful ones.


The practical stuff you can do in schools is really important, it seems to me. Many of us will have been here three or four weeks ago, when there was an exhibition in the Oriel around STEM and other related areas in schools, and there were good conversations going on there about what more we can do to engage girls in STEM, basically. So, we have a programme, which you will know, which is called Girls into STEM. That does good work. The physics mentoring programme has a particular brief to make sure that's attracting girls into science subjects and into STEM more broadly. And actually, I just touched a little bit earlier, didn't I, on the PLA, the gender budgeting. If the committee's interested—and I'm sure you've seen this, anyway—we published an evaluation in June of the PLA, and that has a section that talks about the gender budgeting aspect. It looks at the Council of Europe guidelines and so on. I definitely would not say that was a complete piece of work, because it's very early days, but it does show you a little bit about what you can achieve if you're applying a gender lens to budgeting choices that you're making in this area. I'm making a point that is earlier in the school journey than you're asking about here, but at the end of the day, these are choices and changes that you have to make from the very start, aren't they, so that you've got young people making expectations about subjects that aren't stereotypical to their gender.

I've got two questions here, but not to test your patience, I'll roll them into one, if that's all right. I'd like to know, with the regional learning and skills partnerships as well, where they feed into all this, to making sure that on a regional basis we've actually got the right skills in those areas, and how that fits into the joint work you do together to make sure that those skills are in that area for those businesses.

And finally, on that point, there are certain degree apprenticeships offered in England that aren't offered in Wales. We know that. I was just interested in what work you do, cross border with English universities, if somebody wants to access a degree apprenticeship in England to actually help further their career—how that's encouraged and how we work cross border to make sure people can have the choices that they want to fulfil their lives. Thank you, Chair.

I think it's down to the—. I'm just checking, because I don't think we fund degree apprenticeship programmes in England. I think that's down to the employer. There's nothing to stop an employer accessing that programme with their learner if they think that's appropriate for them.

And on your first point, in the interest of brevity, the answer is 'yes'. We do take on board what regional skills partnerships tell us. That's what they're there for, to inform regional actors. I see the former economy Minister who helped to create the structure that's helping to do this, and that does feed into what we then do and the choices we have to make as a Government. So, yes, it definitely features in our thinking.

Thank you for joining us this morning. How are you ensuring that there is flexibility within the young person's guarantee programmes to reach young people who are already not in education, employment or training?

We've expanded the flexibility in our programmes. So, for example, in June last year, we made ReAct Plus available to young people who are aged 18 to 24 and not in education, employment or training. That's a demand-led programme, as you know, so we're looking to make that more widely available. We also have expanded our provision in Jobs Growth Wales+. We've expanded it to make clear it's available to 19-year-olds. We've also expanded to providing a travel and meal allowance. That came directly from feedback from providers and from learners about making sure that people could undertake the programme and complete it. It's made a difference already since we've done that. I've met a number of people where the difference it has made is them completing the course and actually getting the benefit from it. We're deliberately flexible. I know Jo also heads up our Communities for Work Plus programme that we deliver with local authorities as well. We deliberately look to build in flexibility and the Jobs Growth Wales+ example is a good one to demonstrate that we listen to the feedback and we look to flex the programmes if we're not meeting the needs of everyone we want to get to.


Just to add, this is a sort of pre-young person's guarantee intervention, really, but part of the challenge is to stop people becoming NEET, isn't it, really, and a good example, I think, of cross-Government working here is the youth engagement and progression framework, which has a bit of an overlap with the YPG, because it runs to 18. But it's all about providing the support that's needed to stop people falling out of education, employment and training.

And the other good example of that recently is the funding for work placements, which we announced a few weeks ago, which is obviously targeted at 14 to 16, but again, is meant to be addressing the needs of those learners who are maybe disengaged with their studies, and by offering that wider work experience, helping them to stay engaged. And the pilot that we did last year, which it's based on, showed good evidence of that working, actually. 

Thank you. What actions are you taking to understand what young people need, and, then, adapting programmes to those needs?

Again, with the young person's guarantee, we've had, deliberately from the outset, a national conversation, and a series of surveys and focus groups to try to directly understand from young people their experiences of what's happening, how useful it is, if there are changes. And that has to be flexible, because the needs of different young people will differ. There are young parents who will have different needs to those people who don't have parental responsibilities. There are people with different abilities as well. And I've met, and I've attended a couple of those focus groups, and it's been really interesting in understanding, very practically, how the organisation of some of those opportunities are making a really big difference about the benefit people get or not, whether it's accessible or not. So, I think that's been a really good example. We've done other practical things. So, we've doubled the training allowance. As I said earlier, we've provided more support for travel costs as well. So, all of those things go in to try to make sure that we're deliberately adapting to and flexing with the needs of learners.

And also, Jeremy mentioned the use of the engagement and progression framework. That's another example of where Ministers work across the Government—it's Jeremy and myself and Lynne Neagle, so you've got three Ministers with an interest in that. And with Lynne, we've done some work around one of the big challenges we've seen for young people—the appreciably increased challenge for supporting people's mental health and well-being. Before the pandemic, it was a challenge. Since then, it's a bigger challenge. Young people are less certain about their place in the world, less certain about the sort of future they'll have. So, we announced in the spring that we would put more money into supporting young people engaging in apprenticeships to try to support them with their mental health needs that are there as well. And we're going to need to keep on looking at what we're doing, to make sure that support is both appropriate, and that it's been accessed and is successful, otherwise we will find that the challenges this generation face could make a really big difference to all of our collective futures, and not just to younger adults entering the world of work, or otherwise, now. 

Just a couple of things to flag from my side. Obviously, we've increased the education maintenance allowance to £40, which I think is an important contributor to this. But alongside that, we're reviewing EMA to make sure it's doing what we need it to do. So, that's an example of how we are adapting some of the approaches here, looking at the holistic picture. We've got a range of other things. Vaughan has mentioned some of them. We've got the financial contingency fund that FE colleges can use to support learners. So, we've got to see the whole picture in that space. And we've also, most recently, had the innovation fund for further education colleges, which is how can they work together to trial new ways of delivering learning, so that they can reflect changing preferences, as well as needs, from young people.

Thank you. Are you concerned that young people are leaving training programmes for lower-skilled, but higher-paid jobs? What is your assessment of this issue and what can be done to improve retention?

We haven't seen large-scale evidence. I'd be interested if the committee has seen other evidence that is beyond anecdotal. I wouldn't be at all surprised if every Member around this table could give an example of somebody who'd approached them. And I do recognise that the time we're living through, where people are concerned about the future, partly the reality of the pandemic period, but also, partly, because of the general economic circumstances—. The cost-of-living crisis is very real and unresolved; it's not going to go away any time soon. So, you can understand why people may make a choice for the certainty of an immediate job, as opposed to going through acquiring additional skills and qualifications that could give them, and are likely to give them, a better medium to long-term future. I recognise that's a real challenge. That's part of the reason why, in answer to your previous question, we have provided that additional support, to try to help people through, to see that it is worth sticking with the qualification, with the support they're getting. We currently have 58 per cent of leavers from Jobs Growth Wales+ who have a positive outcome. So, it doesn't reach everyone, but nearly six in 10 have a positive outcome and are either going on to employment or to engaging in a new programme of learning that they actually want to do. So, that's a really good outcome as well. And again, you go back into some of the things we answered on earlier. If there's other evidence, I'd always be keen to understand that, but we haven't seen that larger scale evidence. But, if there are trends developing, we want to try to understand and anticipate and act in advance of them.


Diolch yn fawr iawn. Byddaf i'n siarad yn Gymraeg. Roedd peth o'r data roeddech chi'n eu crybwyll rŵan, yr oeddwn i wedi codi gyda'r Gweinidog addysg ddoe, o ran bod yna dystiolaeth bod 15 y cant o'r rheini sydd ddim yn cwblhau prentisiaethau yn gwneud hynny oherwydd gwaith. Dwi'n meddwl bod hwnna yn ffigur eithaf uchel, a hefyd y ffigurau bod y rhai sydd yn cwblhau prentisiaethau wedi newid o 80.9 y cant yn 2018-19 i 66.3 y cant yn 2021-22. A oes gennym ni ddealltwriaeth o ran pam fod hynny? Oherwydd, yn amlwg, os ydym ni'n sôn am drio cael mwy o bobl i ddewis y llwybr hwnnw, eto mae tystiolaeth yn dangos ein bod ni'n cael pobl yn disgyn allan o'r cynlluniau hynny am lu o resymau amrywiol. Rydych chi wedi sôn, Weinidog addysg, o ran yr EMA a rhai o'r pethau anecdotaidd sydd wedi codi o ran costau trafnidiaeth ac ati, a gobeithio fydd y codiad hwnnw'n help o ran rhai o'r rhwystrau sydd wedi bod yna. Ond faint o waith sy'n cael ei wneud i ddeall pam bod pobl ddim yn cwblhau prentisiaethau yn llwyddiannus, fel ein bod ni'n gallu deall, wedyn, sut ydym ni'n mynd i gyrraedd y targed, sydd yn amlwg yn y rhaglen lywodraethu, o gyrraedd 125,000 o brentisiaethau? Oherwydd, yn amlwg, os ydym ni'n colli pobl, a bod y ffigur yna yn cynyddu o ran y rhai rydym ni'n eu colli, yna mae'r targed yn mynd yn llai cyraeddadwy, byddwn i'n credu. Felly dwi jest eisiau deall hynny.

Thank you very much. I'll be speaking Welsh. Some of the data that you mentioned there I raised with the education Minister yesterday, around the fact that there was evidence that 15 per cent of those who don't complete their apprenticeships do so because of work. I think that that is quite a high figure, and also the figures on those who complete their apprenticeships have changed from 80.9 per cent in 2018-19 to 66.3 per cent in 2021-22. Do we have an understanding as to why that was the case? Because, obviously, if we're talking about getting more people to choose that pathway, evidence shows that we are having people dropping out of those courses for different reasons. You've mentioned, education Minister, the EMA, and some of the anecdotal things that have arisen in terms of transport costs and so forth, and I hope that that increase will be a help in terms of those barriers. But how much work is being done to understand why people aren't completing their apprenticeships successfully, so that we can understand, then, how we are going to reach that target, which is in the programme for government, of having 125,000 apprenticeships? Because if we're losing people, and that figure increases in terms of how many we lose, the target gets less reachable, I would think. So I just want to understand that.

Diolch am y cwestiwn, Heledd.

Thank you for the question, Heledd.

We do listen to learners and we do engage with them about why, when they're prepared to tell us, they don't complete. Our completion rates have, for a significant amount of time, been better than over the border in England, but we're concerned about the fall-off in completion rates. The initial evidence is that it is the cost of living; it is the reality of people's living costs and the pressures on them.

The big challenge for us, more broadly, in terms of passing the budget across the whole Senedd, but also in terms of the Government, is that diagnosing the problem and understanding that is a challenge, and, actually, our means to address that are really challenged too. I don't want to turn in to the finance Minister, but if she were here, she'd definitely tell you about the reality that our budget is worth less, in real terms, than it was a year ago, and worth a lot less, in real terms, than it was two years ago. So, actually, we have more need to address than our means are actually able to provide. So, that means that the priorities we then choose are even more important. So again, that goes back to the conversation we have about PLAs, about apprenticeships, about degree apprenticeships, about protecting that programme, and making really difficult choices to take money out of other areas of activity. It's the reality of the budget exercise that we have to go through, and we will have to go through again before the end of this year. I'm not sanguine or unconcerned about the drop-off in completion rates; it is a real concern, but we still want to understand how far, and is it more than the cost-of-living crisis or not. At the moment, that's the evidence that we have.

Can I follow up just briefly? Can I ask what you think that means in terms of the targets you've set, then? If we're seeing that drop-off—

Oh, sorry, yes, the targets for starts. So, the target is for 125,000 starts, and we've already announced—and I had scrutiny by the Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee on this—that the target is moving from the five years to an extra year, to get to 125,000 starts. And, as I say, that is a direct and unavoidable budget consequence.

Just going back to the young person's guarantee, sorry. It was just a thought process I had. I meet so many people, like I'm sure you do, who are brimming with ideas but not necessarily as suited to more academic qualifications or a workplace environment. I know there's some work going on within Big Ideas—


—to encourage entrepreneurship. But what more are we doing, and linking back again to the careers advice, to encourage people and make sure they're aware of those opportunities at an early stage in their educational career as well?

Jeremy, I'm sure, will talk about what happens within the school setting, but we have deliberately funded and put more into work-related experience at school. Careers Wales, we funded them recently to do more of that and to look at how they can do that, to give us evidence on the impact of that. Big Ideas Wales is part of what we do, within the young person's guarantee. It is the opportunity to go into a job, to go into additional learning, or to start their own business. So, there is a deliberate attempt to support new entrepreneurs through that. And what we're trying not to do is to design a whole range of entirely different routes to get support—so, having something that isn't Big Ideas Wales—because otherwise you're making the landscape more complex for people. So, Business Wales is a single doorway; Big Ideas Wales is our entrepreneurship programme to support people. And to be fair, I think that, within the wider world, there's a reasonable awareness from people who do give entrepreneurial advice. We actually work—. We have our differences with the UK Government, you'll understand, but actually, on Jobcentre Plus, there's awareness of the programmes we run, and we do have a relationship that we work at, and Jo's team, obviously, lead on this. It's a constructive relationship with Jobcentre Plus locally in Wales. We may disagree on policy matters at ministerial level, but, locally, there is a deliberate programme to understand where support is provided, whether by us or JCP.

I think there's a lot of good stuff happening already, is the truth. I think, from a curriculum point of view, in all candour, the journey to being able to embed entrepreneurial learning as part of the curriculum is a longer journey than the experience of the world of work, isn't it, just because it's a subset of the relationships that any school has, and, in most cases, it's probably the least familiar bit for most teachers, you would expect. It's not a criticism, it's just how things are. But there are some really good initiatives happening already, based on the rolling out of the curriculum, but not actually directly tied to it, at a primary level, where it's all about entrepreneurship. There's partnering; there are some interesting businesses out there who are partnering schools with local employers, and it's about more than, if you like, understanding the world of work, it's specifically about entrepreneurial skills. And I think that's really quite exciting. Because I think you can teach a lot of things through, 'What is it like to set up your own business?' There are loads of parts of the curriculum that you can teach through that, aren't there? So, I think that's a real opportunity. From the curriculum point of view, we're definitely not there yet, but I think that's one of the more exciting aspects of it, really.

[Inaudible.]—drop off, actually. I've just done a quick search now and a lot of distance and part-time courses tend to be Master's degrees, and they actually don't tend to do many undergraduate courses, and a lot of them that are part-time are done in the week as well, so, work a couple of days a week and perhaps university a couple of days a week. And as you said, Minister, the cost-of-living challenges, that is causing people to drop-off. So, my question, really, is to the Minister for education: what conversations are you having with the higher education sector here in Wales about them doing more distance learning, and more of that distance learning being done in the evenings, to actually make it more accessible for people to do, so they can actually stay in employment and actually do those courses in the evening, so it's more accessible to people who are working?

We've had a massive increase in part-time higher education in Wales—it's completely fantastic, actually. And not to make the comparison, but really, completely, the rate of growth has outstripped other parts of the UK, because we've been quite deliberate about it, because we share your view. And part of the reason for that success—. And, to be candid, it's largely driven by the Open University, but you would expect that to be the case, in all fairness—that is their core business, isn't it? So, I don't think we should be critical of that; that is what they are brilliant at doing, and they are best placed, really, in many ways, to offer the level of flexibility that you're talking about. I do think, in the longer term, it's incumbent on universities, geographic universities, to think about the changing needs of learners and more modular provision. It's easier to describe than to deliver, by the way, but I think that is part of the longer term discussion. And if anyone hasn't read Louise Casella's speech when she left the Open University, it's a really good vision for an alternative way of providing.

But back to the point you're making, the reason it's increased so dramatically is because of our commitment to making student finance available to part-time students on a par with full-time students. That really has opened up a lot of opportunities. I think one of the challenges, obviously, is how do you get people on that path, isn't it? So, how do you make sure that somebody doing maybe a technical qualification, or even an entry-level qualification, is then clear about the journey they can go on that gets them to that opportunity, if that works for them? Vaughan was rightly making the point earlier that that isn't the route for lots of people, but if you do want that route, how do we make it easy to get that?


The reason I raised the question was because of—. A student came to me who did an entry to politics and economics in Cardiff, did the entry qualification, and was then told at the end, 'If you want to actually study now your undergraduate course, you're going to have to quit your job and come full-time to the university.' That's where I think people need to be explained to, 'This is what you're going to have to do after', so that people don't think, 'I've just spent two years doing that for nothing.' 

Can I just say, Chair, that it's quite a shift in the model, to be fair to physical universities? It's quite a shift in the model to move from where we are now into mass part-time provision. It's just a very different way of delivering education. So, that's why the growth has really been through the OU, but I can see in that particular situation that's a challenge.

Thanks, Chair. Thanks, Ministers. I'm just going to ask a couple of questions, if I may, about CTER, the Commission for Tertiary Education and Research. First of all, what are your priorities for the commission during its establishment period? 

The establishment period effectively runs from September this year to the end of March/beginning of April next year, so it's a seven-month period, it's a limited period, but, obviously, it's an important period. As you will know from my having written to the committee, my intention is to make the second of the commencement Orders over the recess, so that the work then can begin from September to the end of March. And really, in very broad terms, the areas of focus for the commission in that period are going to be partly beginning to develop the preparatory work on the registration system, and a lot of it will be on establishment questions and capacity building. So, recruitment, appointment of staff, settling the staff structure, getting the board up and running, getting the committee structure of the board in place, training, organisational development, fit out of the headquarters—the things that are required to deliver the existence of the organisation, so that it can start being actually operational in April. So, that's really what the focus will be on during that period. 

And how do you envisage working with the chair, the chief exec and also the vice-chair during that period?

We're going to invite them to be members of the programme implementation board, so they'll be part and parcel of that. Obviously, some of those individuals that you named already are. And the crucial thing at this point is it's a limited time period, but it's a crucial time period, so making sure that we have a clear way of working between the commission and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales in its final months, and with the Welsh Government who will be handing over some responsibilities, but, obviously, retaining others. So, we'll have a protocol between the three bodies, if you like, to ensure that all works very smoothly, but I don't anticipate a challenge in that. Obviously, by the end of this year, I will be issuing the statement of priorities, so then we'll be expecting the commission to respond to that, and I'm sure that'll be a big area of focus for them. 

Thank you very much. If I can just pick up on the final point following on from Ken, how much additional resource is there likely to be available to meet the new duties? I think the concern has been that there may be some impact on existing budgets—we know how tight Government budgets are—but, obviously, the additional duties are something that's very clear. So, if I can just ask that. 

Well, I'm not sure I'd see it quite in that way. So, the commission will have one of the largest budgets—probably the largest budget outside of the Government apart from the NHS, I think, from memory. So, it's going to be a significant budget holder. The duties are there to shape everything that the commission does, so they're not a separate thing over here that require separate funding; they are the way in which the commission must operate, so they are the guide rails for everything they do. So, I think that’s probably a more helpful way of looking at it, really.


Okay. I understand in terms of that resource, but I think, obviously, some of those budgets are external and some of the duties are elsewhere at the moment, so I think there's been some concern amongst those where the responsibility has been with an organisation, and I'm just wondering how that works.

Okay. Sorry, I was misunderstanding your question. So, there’s a separate discussion that Vaughan and I and Eluned have had about how we—. Because we all, in different ways, fund different elements of research, for example. Obviously, my portfolio has the further education budget, and we provide the funding to HEFCW. So, there are currently budgets in all different parts of the Government, and we worked to see how best to pass that on, so we’ve been looking at that recently. But the quantum of budget will be the budget that we currently hold. There will be decisions that are taken in the 2023-24 financial year that will obviously be inherited, if you like, by the commission, because it doesn’t exist yet, in that sense. So, for the very early stage of its operations it will simply be inheriting the budget choices that we’ve made this year, but obviously that’s inescapable, really.

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Os caf i droi at y Gymraeg—diolch. O ran edrych efo ymchwil ac arloesi, sydd yn symud ymlaen o'r pwnc diwethaf, pa sgyrsiau ydych chi wedi'u cael gyda'r sector ôl-16 am y strategaeth arloesi? Ac a fyddwch chi'n ymgynghori â'r sector ar y cynllun gweithredu cyn iddo gael ei gyhoeddi?

Thank you, Chair. If I could switch to Welsh—thanks. In terms of looking at research and innovation, which is linked to the previous topic, what conversations have you had with the post-16 sector about the innovation strategy? And will you be consulting with the sector on the action plan before its publication?

Thank you. So, we deliberately consulted with learners and young people, and, yes, we have deliberately consulted with the post-16 sector as well. Actually, we had a good and understandably engaged response from further and higher education when we consulted on the innovation strategy. We went out for a further round of consultation as well, and this is within the co-operation agreement, so I’ve met with the designated member and the then leader at the time, as well. So, we took part in a Chatham House round-table where people did get to engage directly with us as well as with each other, and as we’re going through the process of looking to deliver on the action plans that I want to publish before the end of the calendar year, we will again be engaging with the post-16 sector, so it’s work that is ongoing. In fact, I think we’re due to have a meeting before we go into summer recess to look at progress on that.

Gwych, diolch yn fawr iawn. Os caf i ofyn—mae'n ddrwg gen i ddod i mewn â'r gair sydd ddim wedi dod i fyny hyd yma, 'Brexit'—ond o ran edrych yn benodol o ran rhaglen Horizon, yn amlwg mae yna'n dal ansicrwydd o ran parhad y Deyrnas Unedig o ran hynny. Ydych chi'n credu ei bod hi'n bosib cyflawni mwy o sicrwydd erbyn dechrau'r flwyddyn academaidd, o'r sgyrsiau rydych chi wedi'u cael gyda'r Deyrnas Unedig? Oherwydd, yn amlwg, o ran yr ochr arloesi ac ymchwil, mae hyn yn cael effaith, yr ansicrwydd, ar y funud.

Thank you very much. If I could ask you—I regret mentioning this word that hasn't come up so far today, 'Brexit'—but in looking specifically at the Horizon programme, there is still some uncertainty about the continuation of that on a UK basis. Do you believe that it's possible to achieve more certainty by the start of the academic year, given the conversations you've had with the UK side? Because in terms of research and innovation, this does have an impact, that uncertainty, at the moment.

I think it's fair to say that, yes, it is possible. The challenge is that it's not certain. Again, I don't normally go out of my way to be positive about Conservative politicians, but George Freeman, the UK Minister of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, he's been very clear in his regular engagement with me and indeed with Scottish Ministers, and that's the approach that we want to see UK Ministers take, that his view, and the UK Government's view, is they want to associate to Horizon. The challenge is that the time frame to get that done for the start of the academic term is really short. So, it's how quickly that can happen, and actually if it can't happen relatively quickly, there then needs to be a strategic choice about whether association is going to happen. So, we're having twin-track conversations about—. I'm very clear that I want association to happen. The Windsor framework isn't perfect, but it does unlock a range of other things, including this, so there's now a constructive conversation that is taking place. There is a deal to be done, but the challenge is that recognising there's a deal to be done and getting it over the line are two different things.

The second track is: what would the alternative be? And actually, this is really difficult for us, because—. I say 'difficult for us' because Wales did better than you would expect on our population and university share from Horizon. So, we punched above our weight in Horizon. If the replacement scheme doesn't recognise that, then actually we'll end up losing out from that funding as well. So, the alternative funding that was provided in the last few years when we hadn't associated to Horizon hasn't reflected what Welsh universities got out of the previous Horizon programmes. There is a risk for us in an environment where, for UK-delivered funds, Wales does not get a share that we could or should live with. That's why, in our innovation strategy, one of the deliberate targets and outcomes we want to achieve is progressively getting more from UK funding sources than we currently do now. That's breaking through some of the cultural challenges of where our money currently goes, as well as us being better at having more bids and more successful bids into those programmes.


Diolch yn fawr iawn. Gaf i holi o ran un maes? Un peth y gwnes i gyffwrdd arno efo chi, Gweinidog addysg, ddoe oedd o ran prentisiaethau yn y Gymraeg. Roeddech chi'n sôn ddoe ynglŷn â rôl y coleg cenedlaethol, ond yn amlwg mae yna rôl i bob coleg addysg uwch neu addysg bellach yng Nghymru o ran hyn, o ran sicrhau eu bod nhw'n cael eu hyrwyddo, datblygu sgiliau o fewn pob cwrs ac ati. Felly, a gaf i weld efallai bach yn fwy o wybodaeth ynglŷn â'ch gweledigaeth chi o ran y gwaith ôl-16, targed 'Cymraeg 2050' a'r gwaith sy'n mynd rhagddo ar y funud?

Thank you very much. Could I ask in terms of one area? One thing I touched upon yesterday with you, education Minister, was in terms of apprenticeships through the medium of Welsh. You mentioned yesterday the role of the coleg cenedlaethol, but obviously there is a role for all HE or FE colleges in Wales in terms of ensuring that they are promoted, with skills development within all course and so forth. So, could I have some more information about your vision regarding the post-16 work, the 'Cymraeg 2050' target and the work that's going on at present?

Wel, mae'r dilyniant yn hollbwysig, onid yw e? Mae'n rhaid sicrhau bod llwybr—rydym ni newydd fod yn sôn am parity of esteem, beth bynnag yw parity of esteem yn Gymraeg. Yn anffodus dwi ddim yn cofio—

Well, the progression is vital. We need to ensure that there's a pathway—we've just been talking about parity of esteem, whatever that is in Welsh. I can't remember, I'm afraid—

Beth bynnag, mae rhywun yn cyfieithu fe i chi ar y pryd, felly.

Allwn ni ddim cael sefyllfa lle mae'r llwybr academaidd, os hoffwch chi, ar gael yn hafal yn y Gymraeg—er dyw e ddim, wrth gwrs, yn gwbl hafal ar hyn o bryd ond mae'n agosach at fod yn hafal—a wedyn bod gyda chi ddewisiadau galwedigaethol sydd jest ddim ar gael yn y Gymraeg. Felly, dyw hynny ddim yn dderbyniol, wrth gwrs. Mae e wedi bod yn heriol yw'r gwir. Felly, rydych chi'n iawn i ddweud nad dim ond gwaith y Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol sy'n berthnasol yma. Mae angen sicrhau ein bod ni'n gallu recriwtio pobl sy'n gallu darparu hyn yn ein colegau addysg bellach hefyd. Mae gwaith da yn digwydd yn hynny o beth. Mae hynny'n rhan o'r gwaith o ran y cynllun 10 mlynedd ar gyfer y gweithlu sydd gyda ni, ond mae'n sicr yn un o'r pethau rwy'n sgwrsio’n rheolaidd gyda phenaethiaid y colegau amdano.

Byddwn i'n dweud bod dealltwriaeth gynyddol fod hyn yn sefyllfa heriol, ac, wrth gwrs, mae'n dibynnu lle ŷch chi yng Nghymru, i raddau. Mae darpariaeth mewn rhai mannau yn fwy cyflawn na mewn mannau eraill, fel efallai byddech chi'n gallu disgwyl.

Un o'r pethau rwy'n credu roeddech chi'n sôn amdano ddoe yn y drafodaeth, ac rwy'n cytuno, yw beth gallwn ni wneud i atgoffa ac i esbonio bod gyrfa dysgu ôl-16 yn opsiwn o ran disgyblion sy'n medru'r Gymraeg yn ein hysgolion ni heddiw, beth gallwn ni ei wneud er mwyn sicrhau eu bod nhw'n deall bod hynny yn rhywbeth. Rŷn ni i gyd yn gallu meddwl am ddysgu mewn ysgol fel gyrfa, ond dyw pawb ddim yn meddwl am y cam pellach hwnnw, felly.

Ond rwyf yn credu hefyd fod creu'r capasiti trwy'r coleg Cymraeg yn bwysig, ac rwy'n gobeithio hefyd y bydd mwy a mwy o bobl yn cymryd y cyfle i gymryd y cyrsiau Cymraeg sydd ar gael yna i'r gweithlu addysg yn ehangach. Dyna pam mae'r cyrsiau yna ar gael ar ddim, fel bod pobl yn gallu cymryd y cyfleoedd hynny os ydyn nhw eisiau.

That's been interpreted for you.

We can't have a situation where the academic pathway, if you will, is available equally in Welsh—even though it's not completely equal at the moment, but it's closer to being equal—and then that you have vocational options that aren't available in Welsh. That's not acceptable, of course. It's been challenging, truth be told. So, you are right to say that it's not only the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol's work that's relevant in this area. We need to ensure that we can recruit people who can provide this in our further education colleges too. There is good work ongoing in that regard, and it's part of that work in relation to the 10-year workforce plan that we have, but it's certainly one of the things that I do discuss regularly with heads of colleges.

I would say that there is an increased understanding that this is a challenging situation, and, of course, it depends where you are in Wales, to an extent. Provision in some areas is better than in others, as you might expect.

One of the things I do think you did mention yesterday in the debate, and I agree, is what can we do to remind and explain to people that a post-16 teaching career is available for those Welsh speakers from our schools, and what we can do to ensure that they understand that that is something. We can all think about teaching in a school as a career, but we don't about that further step.

But I think that also creating that capacity through the coleg Cymraeg is important, and, hopefully, more and more people will take that opportunity to take up Welsh-medium courses for the broader education workforce. That's why those courses are available for free, so that people can take those opportunities if they do wish to do so.

Ar y funud, canran eithaf bach o'r gyllideb o ran prentisiaethau sydd yn canolbwyntio'n benodol o ran y Gymraeg. Wrth i'r gwaith yma ddod rhagddo, ydych chi'n gweld hynny o bosib yn cynyddu, felly, oherwydd yn amlwg dŷn ni ishio cyrraedd lle lle mae gweithlu dwyieithog a'n bod ni'n datblygu sgiliau pobl sydd wedi bod trwy addysg cyfrwng Saesneg yn ôl-16? Ydych chi'n meddwl bod y gyllideb sy'n canolbwyntio ar hynny ar y funud yn ddigonol i fatsio'r uchelgais?

At present, the percentage of the apprenticeships budget that is specifically focused on Welsh is quite low. As that work goes on, do you think that could increase, because, evidently, we want to reach a place where we have a bilingual workforce and we do develop the skills of people who have been through English-medium education post 16? Do you think that the budget that we have at the moment is adequate to meet that ambition?

Ydw, ac mae'n elfen o uchelgais, ond mae hi hefyd yn elfen o gapasiti, onid yw hi? Felly, rydych chi'n gorfod edrych ar y ddau beth ar y cyd. Rydych chi'n gwybod ein bod ni wedi cytuno yn y cytundeb cydweithio fod cyllideb sylweddol nawr—sylweddol yn fwy—yn mynd i'r Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol. Felly, dyna pam rŷn ni wedi gwneud hynny, ontife, fel ein bod ni'n gallu sicrhau bod cynnydd yn digwydd fel hyn.

Yes, and it's an element of ambition, but it's also an element of capacity, isn't it? So, you have to look in tandem at both things. We have agreed in the co-operation agreement that there is significantly more funding now going to the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol. That's why we have done that, so that we can ensure that there is an increase in that regard.

Thank you. Diolch yn fawr. We have finished today's session slightly early, and I'd like to thank Members and Ministers for being so succinct in their answers, and fulsome as well. We have finished on time. I was a little bit worried at one point—[Laughter.] It somewhat tested my patience, but, no, that's very good. So, 'well done' to everybody. Thank you again for coming in this morning and joining us. You will receive a transcript in due course to check for accuracy. Diolch yn fawr.


As agreed by Members, we will now move into private session for the remainder of the meeting.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 12:20.

The public part of the meeting ended at 12:20.