THIS summer, the Welsh Government is helping to support 1,000 brand new apprenticeship vacancies for people of all ages across Wales.
The vacancies, which will be posted on the Apprenticeship Matching Service on the Careers Wales website throughout the summer, will offer young people and adults the chance to secure an exciting career in a wide range of disciplines including ICT, creative industries, construction and STEM, where skill shortages are particularly prevalent.
The job roles will all be apprenticeship opportunities with qualifications to match, with a particular focus on technical and professional skills. Some of the apprenticeships that are available now include journalist, associate scientist, quantity surveyor, ICT and computing, digital and marketing.
The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.
Alana Spencer, 25, winner of BBC One series, The Apprentice in 2016 is a supporter of the Welsh Government apprenticeship programme.
She said:“Young people leaving school are so lucky to have so many opportunities available to them. Apprenticeships have so many great benefits and allow young people to kick-start a career in a field they love, while also gaining some fantastic experience and industry relevant skills and qualifications that will help them to progress their career in the future.
“When I left school at 16 I was adamant that I didn’t want to follow the traditional university route into a job. I also didn’t know anything about apprenticeships at the time so didn’t even consider them as a possible avenue into becoming a chocolatier.
“When I was first starting out I had no-one to teach me so I spent my days learning how to cook by practising and perfecting recipes at home. I would then road test them with family and friends as well as at local events.
“It was exceedingly hard work and really challenging at times but thoroughly rewarding. However, there have been times when I didn’t think I’d make it and would’ve been grateful for the opportunity to get some advice and support as well as some practical, hands-on experience before venturing out alone.
“These days apprenticeships are the perfect answer when it comes to wanting to launch a career in a field you’re passionate about while also obtaining all the tools you need to succeed in the future. They are a win – win for everyone.”
Wales has developed a highly successful apprenticeship programme over recent years. Apprenticeships are increasingly becoming a viable alternative to traditional academic routes into employment, helping people of all ages gain on the job experience while studying for a nationally recognised qualification.
With results day around the corner, the Welsh Government is urging people in Wales to consider how an apprenticeship can be the first step of a worthwhile, skilled career path.
Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James, said: “Apprenticeships are the start of an exciting and rewarding career and can benefit anyone of any age, giving them an opportunity to gain practical, on the job experience while gaining all the skills and qualifications they need.
“Apprenticeships are a key investment for employers who can train their workforce in the specialist skills they need within their organisation. Overall, apprenticeships play an important role in increasing the nation’s overall skill set and driving economic growth, making sure that Wales remains competitive on the world stage.
“The Welsh Government is working in conjunction with training providers across Wales to highlight 1000 apprenticeship vacancies in organisations from various sectors within small SMEs to larger global conglomerates over the summer period.
“The job roles available offer all the benefits of an apprenticeship with qualifications to match, and there is a particular focus on improving technical and professional higher level skills. The Welsh Government is rebalancing its investment towards the priority areas that deliver higher returns and the range of opportunities that will be available over the summer reflect this.
“The roles available are open to people of all ages and provide access to high quality training for individuals who want to achieve their full potential. We already have a strong record of quality apprenticeships and our goal is to build on this and offer apprenticeships in sectors that drive growth and prospects of increased earning power.”
For more information about becoming an apprentice, visit careerswales.com and following the apprenticeship link or to find out how your business could benefit from recruiting an apprentice, visit Skills Gateway for Business at https://businesswales.gov.wales/skillsgateway/apprenticeships or call 03000 603000.
Elin Jones backs calls for business rates holiday extension for independent businesses
CEREDIGION’S Member of the Senedd, Elin Jones, has backed calls by the British Independent Retail Association for the extension of the current rates holiday for non-essential businesses in 2021/22.
Many local independent businesses have been closed for the best part of a year, and many will be in a more precarious situation now than when the initial rates holiday was announced last year. Many businesses will be looking forward to the easing of restrictions over the next few months, but Elin Jones warned that many would benefit from the continued business rates holiday.
Elin Jones said:
“Every effort must be made to secure the future of independent businesses in Ceredigion. They are such an important feature of life in Ceredigion, both as employers, and as a draw for people to our towns and villages.
“Normal trading will eventually resume, and these businesses will be able to flourish again, but local businesses owners know that this cannot be rushed. Therefore we must continue to sustain our businesses until they are once again back on an even keel.
“It will take a while for footfall to resume, and extending the business rates holiday is one way to help in this time of need.”
MP makes Budget case for support for self-employed and small businesses in Ceredigion
BEN LAKE MP has called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend the government’s financial support package for businesses and self-employed workers in next week’s Budget as many struggle to stay afloat during continued lockdown restrictions.
The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak is to set out the UK Government’s budget on Wednesday 3 March, almost a year since the last Budget on 11 March 2020.
To help businesses and our local high streets over coming months, the Ceredigion MP has called on the Chancellor to extend the lowered rate of VAT at 5% for hospitality and tourism for a year to March 2022 and to extend the business rates relief package.
Mr Lake also called on the Chancellor to retain the furlough scheme for the duration of pandemic restrictions, as recent figures show more than 178,000* in Wales are still receiving government help from the CJRS. He also urged the Chancellor to expand the existing eligibility criteria for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme in order to offer some help to the many individuals who have not received a penny in Government support thus far.
Ben Lake MP said: “For many businesses and self-employed workers, the financial support government has offered over the last 12 months has been a lifeline. Now, as we are finally starting to see light at the end of the lockdown tunnel, we cannot remove this lifeline prematurely. Extending this help for a little longer, and expanding the criteria to help those that have been excluded thus far, would offer small businesses the support they require to ‘bounce back’ from the pandemic.”
Many businesses who are still not open due to lockdown measures are also now expected to start repaying their Bounce Back Loans. This is despite their situation largely remaining unchanged since they took out the loan, or in some unfortunate instances, worsened as they have not yet been able to trade.
UKHospitality has estimated that the hospitality sector lost around £72 billion in sales in 2020 and faces, frankly, a debt mountain, including £4.2 billion in state-backed loans.
Mr Lake said: “It is important that businesses that took out bounce back loans and CBILS are required to pay only when they are in a position to do so – once they have ‘bounced back’ from the pandemic. Affording such a level of flexibility, and thus preventing avoidable business failures, would protect jobs, the taxpayer’s investment in the recovery, and the integrity of our financial system.
“We remain in the early stages of a vaccine-led recovery, and it is likely that we will have some form of restrictions for many months to come. Having done so much to protect the economy and the workforce, we must not withdraw support prematurely, as to do so would risk throwing away the investment taxpayers have made in the last year, and potentially our economic recovery.”
Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50
EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.
While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.
Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:
- Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
- Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
- Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
- Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
- Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April
The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.
Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.
People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.
Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While our programme has had to slow due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.
“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.
“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.
“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.
“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”
People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.
The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.
Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.
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