IN AN ATTEMPT to boost higher level skills in advanced manufacturing and engineering, the Welsh Government is urging employers to adopt a brand new qualification.
Employer-led skills expert Semta and College Wales have been appointed by the Welsh government to plan the development of a Master Craftsperson qualification, which will contribute to improving performance in advanced manufacturing and engineering, a sector essential for Wales’ prosperity.
Apprenticeship frameworks across the advanced manufacturing and engineering sectors in Wales are developed and issued by Semta, who began to undertake a survey of employers on Monday, July 11, to help influence the qualification. Upon the survey’s conclusion, the Welsh government will receive recommendations from Semta with the hope of running a pilot in the autumn. If it succeeds, the initiative could be rolled out across the UK.
Since the Middle Ages, the title Master Craftsman has been in use in Europe. Those wishing to earn the title began by serving a formal apprenticeship to a Master, gaining experience through a Journeyman period and concluding with a final assessment before earning the accolade. The skills required to earn the medieval decoration are not that different from those involved in the process of becoming a European Master Craftsperson today.
Semta represents around 6,000 employers in the advanced manufacturing and engineering sector in Wales. Chief Executive of Semta, Ann Watson, said: “While the work was agreed prior to the European referendum, the decision to leave has made home grown skills even more important.
“Master Craftsperson is a holistic qualification which shows the candidate not only has the technical abilities but the coaching, mentoring and managerial skills to drive a business forward.
“Over the next few weeks we will be asking employers for their input. We want them to tell us their needs and help to build the qualification they want to enhance higher level skills,” she said.
“Master Craftsperson is a means of ensuring managers and mentors are positively influencing young people who are the future of the companies with skills that are fit-for-purpose in highly competitive marketplaces.”
In European countries driven by demand from employers, customers and legislation, there is a significant take up of the Master Craftsperson qualification. In Germany there is a legal framework around the requirement to obtain the qualification for employers and leaders, and in 2010/11, the qualification was earned by 93,357 German people.
During the same period of time, Austria trained 3,536 for the qualification. A legal framework similar to that in Germany exists in Switzerland, and in 2009, 14,852 people qualified.
Research has revealed that, in the countries who have adopted a legal framework for the accreditation of Master Craftsperson, the following areas of competence must be proven: management (HR, finance, economics, etc.), skills transfer (coaching, mentoring, teaching, etc.), and sector specific occupational competence (knowledge, understanding and vocational skills). Evidence of a minimum period of post-qualification experience within the required role must also be provided.
“We face a future outside the European Union, albeit hopefully with strong trade links and relationships maintained, but this is an opportunity for Wales to lead the way in developing a new qualification to suit its needs and benefit the wider UK economy, as has happened in countries which have adopted their own Master Craftsperson frameworks,” Ann Watson added.
For more information about the programme, employers should contact Paul Morgan, Sector Development Specialist for Wales via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Customer Services on 0845 643 9001.