CONCERN has been raised by a number of employers across Wales over potential cuts to apprenticeships.

Pembrokeshire College is one of more than 60 employers and educators who have written an open letter highlighting the ‘devastating’ effect that the cuts – announced by the Welsh Government on December 19 – will have on apprentices, employers and communities.

The cuts to the apprenticeship programme are expected to be around 50 per cent, which could see 10,000 less apprentices able to start next year and the open letter highlights that the reductions will fall disproportionately on young people and those in the lowest socio-economic groups and signal challenging times for the further education and work-based learning sectors. It is due to come into place in August 2024.

Dr Barry Walters, Pembrokeshire College’s principal, said: “As Wales navigates turbulent economic times, colleges are the skills engine needed to drive economic recovery and much-needed growth.

“It is critical that future potential inward investment is not damaged, and the budget decision is a huge gamble for Wales’ economy and communities.

“We would urge Welsh Government to rethink this decision to cut the apprenticeship programme.”

In Pembrokeshire since 2019, 3,320 people have started on an apprenticeship in the county in a variety of sectors, including 1,380 in the healthcare and public service. In 2023 alone (between January and the end of September), 815 people started on an apprenticeship, with 315 of them in the healthcare and public service workforce.

In Carmarthenshire, there have been 5,000 apprentices start since 2019 across a variety of sectors, with almost half (2,365) in the healthcare and public service workforce. Between January 2023 and September 2023, 1,030 people began an apprenticeship, with 470 of those in the healthcare and public service workforce.

1,405 apprenticeships have been started in the Ceredigion area since 2019, with 465 of these in the healthcare and public service workforce. Between January 2023, and September 2023, 285 people have started apprenticeships, with 80 in the healthcare and public service workforce.

The concerns about the impact of potential reduced budgets across apprenticeships and further education have previously been highlighted by ColegauCymru, as further education colleges need sustainable funding to be able to support learners and deliver for employers.