The latest in Skills & Talent across South East Wales


February brought news of a major skills funding boost for Creative Industries in our region, together with two studies showing a surge in apprenticeship uptake and the importance placed by Gen Z on training and development. Those reports made Welsh Water’s record apprenticeship offering look inspired – but celebrations were muted by news of a continued gender pay gap, even in female-dominated industries …. 

CCR’s Creative Industries receive major skills funding boost

One of CCR’s key priority sectors – the Creative Industries – received a significant boost in February, with the Creative Skills Fund awarding more than £1.5m to 17 projects that will deliver high-quality skills and training projects within one of our Region’s fastest-growing sectors.

Launched by the Welsh Government in September 2022, the Creative Skills Fund supports projects aligned to one or more of the 10 identified projects within the three-year industry led Creative Skills Action Plan – addressing the skills requirements of Digital Content, Music and Screen, as well as considering the long-term needs of Wales’ thriving creative sector. 

Some of the projects which have been awarded funding include new Learning Disability Inclusion training for the screen industry; upskilling grass roots music venue managers; an entry-level Gaming Hub covering BTEC entry requirements at levels 1, 2 and 3 – and the creation of three new Screen Academies to deliver the skills, education and training needed by the next generation of Welsh screen industry talent.

The Screen Academies project is being led by the multi-Oscar-winning University of South Wales Film & TV School in collaboration with Bangor University and Screen Alliance Wales – developing Screen Academies inside Aria Studios, Greatpoint Studios and Wolf Studios Wales, to create pathways for a diverse student base to enter the booming TV and Film Industry here in Wales.     

Welsh Water offers record number of apprenticeships

The past month has seen Welsh Water open its 2023 apprenticeship programme, offering a record 50 training opportunities across its water, wastewater, retail and support service teams, in roles that vary from operational and information technology, to process science and customer service.   

The not-for-profit company has previously won awards including Best Apprenticeship Scheme from CIPD Wales, as well as accolades for Best Higher Apprenticeship and Top Employer, achieving an 80% retention rate for apprentices since 2018 – testimony to an approach that allows apprentices to pursue a variety of career paths and specialisms.

Past apprentices include current Chief Executive Officer, Pete Perry – with many of the company’s management team similarly joining the enterprise on apprenticeship programmes straight from school.   

Since 2012, the company has taken on 243 apprentices – with 178 of those progressing their careers and remaining today as Welsh Water employees – evidencing the facts that apprenticeships represent long-term investments that create a loyal workforce and future-proofed resilience for an organisation. 

Apprenticeship uptake soars alongside cost of living crisis

New research from housebuilder Redrow reveals that more than a quarter (27%) of young adults (16-24) in the UK are re-evaluating their finances and career choices because of the cost-of-living crisis – prioritising apprenticeships over higher education.

The survey of 1,000 young adults found that two in five (45%) view apprenticeships as opportunities to earn and not incur student debt, with 38% associating an apprenticeship with greater financial independence at an earlier age – and 30% valuing the mentoring and coaching opportunities offered as part of their training.

Perception-wise, the study shows that although apprenticeships are growing in popularity among young people, two in three (68%) believe that there is a stigma associated with being an apprentice, rather than pursuing higher education. 

When asked about the careers advice they had been given, half (49%) of young people surveyed agreed their school hadn’t encouraged apprenticeship routes and two in five (41%) were not told anything about apprenticeships – compared to three quarters (72%) who agreed that going to university was more encouraged at school.  

Gen Z and Millennials value Training & Development more than any other generation

The Career Accelerator Programme offered as part of the Venture Graduate Recruitment service meets a critical need – according to new research conducted amongst UK workers, which reveals that Gen Z and Millennials are prioritising training and development more than any other generation.

The research shows that more than a quarter of employees aged between 16-34 believe training and development is the most crucial factor when it comes to their engagement as an employee.

Interestingly, this age group was found to be the least motivated by salary – with just 42% of 16-34 year olds choosing pay as their primary motivator, compared to 52% of employees aged 45 and over.

The study, conducted by Cloud Assess, found that training and development (when done well) has a stronger impact on young people’s work ethic than any other generation – with two thirds of 16-34 year olds claiming that it improves their commitment to their employer, and three quarters of young workers agreeing that it boosts their job satisfaction.

In addition, the research reveals that young people have stronger views on how they would like their training to be delivered than older employees. While the most popular training format amongst all age groups was face-to-face, Gen Zs were the most unanimous despite their limited time in the workplace, with just 17% choosing ‘online training’ as their preferred training format.

Despite the importance young employees place on training and development, the research found that 71% of Millennials and Gen Z employees believe their current training could be improved – making them the least satisfied of any age demographic (worrying news for employers who are increasingly reliant on young talent).

Two-thirds of female-dominated occupations have a Gender Pay Gap

With International Women’s Day coming into view on 8th March, a new analysis has shown that most popular occupations in the UK – including those with a high proportion of women in the workforce – have a pay gap that favours men.

Reviewing the latest gender pay gap estimates from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), HR systems provider Ciphr found that around two-thirds (65%) of professions where over 60% of workers are women have gender pay gaps in favour of men.

Some of the largest occupations with the widest gender pay gaps include functional managers and directors (in roles such as town clerks, planning managers, research directors and trade union managers), and legal associate professionals (including legal assistants, litigators, data protection officers and land registrars). The average gender pay gap for these occupational groups are 21.3% and 16.8% respectively.  

Around two-thirds of the UK’s HR professionals, bookkeepers, payroll managers and wages clerks are women, yet all these job roles – employing 700,000 people combined – have a gender pay gap of nearly 7% in favour of men.

The analysis also shows a 12% gender pay gap for office managers and local government administrative occupations (12.5% and 12.1% respectively) – and an 8.9% gender pay gap in favour of men across half a million part-time administrative roles – evidencing the fact that much work remains to be done to achieve equal pay for all genders.  


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