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Transforming Higher Education



Skills for Jobs: Priorities
Wales Employment and Skills Board, July 2011.


Skills for Jobs is a report providing advice to the Welsh government by Wales Employment and Skills Board (WESB) on the priorities for investment in post-16 training and skills development through a focus on the present and future economic needs of Wales and its workforce.


Wales is currently inappropriately skilled and requires a planned funding approach to reach the necessary balance of skills required, according to the report.  Compared to OECD competitors, Wales is under-skilled, yet over-skilled compared to employer demand. A particular fast-growing skills gap exists in leadership and management skills. As well, Wales is facing a “skills escalator” with the fast-growing occupations requiring a higher level of skills while the fastest-declining occupations requiring lower levels of skills.


As such, the WESB has recommended priorities that fit within the mandate of the Skills, Higher Education and Lifelong Learning (SHELL) division of the government to meet the skills agenda.


The recommended priorities include:

  • Invest in basic skills, including employability skills, for adults seeking work while progressively reducing the spending on remedial basic skills for people who have recently left school (as the performance of schools improves).
  • Continue to focus on apprenticeships with further development of progression routes from apprenticeships to higher levels of training, and expand work integrated learning at all levels.
  • Put in place a more rigorous approach to vocational courses and expand work experience opportunities as part of a strong emphasis on supporting youth employment.
  • Increase responsiveness to the changing demand for high-level skills through planning and funding of Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE).
  • Enhance leadership and management skills at all levels with a strong emphasis on co-investment with employers and supply chain initiatives.
  • Focus longer term on the importance of reskilling the adult workforce to meet the economic challenges of the future.


As a result of the changes associated with these seven priorities, WESB also believes a different set of key performance indicators will be required. Indicators might include the rate of growth in full-cost recovery work in FE colleges; and the extent of growth in part or full funding of HE courses by employers.


The main message of the report is that the skills agenda should maximize leverage and co-investment from employers and individuals. Therefore, efforts must be taken to encourage a demand for skills while simultaneously supplying the necessary skills.


The focus should not be put on just a few sectors, but rather the whole economy. This requires better labour market information and information about the outcomes of learning programs to ensure funded provisions are relevant, effective and efficient.


The full report is available here.



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