The end of April and beginning of May saw important new initiatives and reports across both the regional and national skills domain – with CILEX announcing a pioneering partnership to provide inclusive apprenticeship pathways for legal careers … USW publishing a first-of-its-kind mapping of skills and talent needs for South Wales’ Video Games industry … Open University revealing the importance of L&D to public sector skills and employee retention …the VISTA programme looking to create new jobs in Blaenau Gwent … and Robert Half’s survey reporting on sector skill salaries for the past 6 months …
More flexible legal services apprenticeships to improve access to justice in Wales
A pioneering new partnership promises to bring more flexible legal services apprenticeships to Wales – with news that CILEX has joined forces with the Law Society and the Welsh Government to establish a new apprenticeship pathway aimed at improving access to justice by opening up opportunities to the growing number of people looking for a vocational route into a career in law.
This alternative new vocational pathway is open through any organisation able to provide the necessary legal work experience, with an estimated 700 organisations in Wales potentially suitable to sponsor a legal apprentice.
The new Level 3 and Level 5 apprenticeships are open to students aged 16 or over, with a high standard of numeracy and literacy – and sponsorship by their employer.
Employers in Wales can begin recruiting for legal services apprentices or sponsor existing employees from June 2022, when enrolment will open for the new training provision, with apprentices able to study remotely or in-person.
Apprentices undertaking the new qualifications will complete the Foundation stage (Level 3) and Advanced stage (Level 5) of the new CILEX Professional Qualification, giving them a clear progression route to further legal qualification, including becoming a CIlex lawyer as a specialist in their chosen area of practice alongside solicitors, barristers and other legal professionals.
Each level will take between 18 months and two years to complete – meaning an apprentice who progresses further with their legal training could qualify as a CILEX lawyer in five to six years.
Targeted Skills Support will help Video Games industry in South Wales
The video games sector in Wales needs bespoke support and incentives, including talent development for recent graduates and structured mentorship for nascent companies, according to a new report by the University of South Wales (USW).
The Clwster Games Survey Wales 2021 report is part of a five-year programme that aims to put innovation at the core of media production in South Wales. It’s the first detailed, systematic mapping of this high-value, fast-growing sector in Wales – highlighting the skills challenges and training needs of the industry, outlining the current training and post-16 provision and identifying the major talent initiatives aimed at developing games in Wales and across the UK.
With more players than ever before (2.9 billion in 2021) and a global games market expected to reach £150 billion by 2023, the report makes a series of recommendations to help the sector reach its growth potential. These include:
- The introduction of Higher or Degree Apprenticeships for games development or games art being offered in Wales, enabling FE, HE and industry to build accessible career routes in the region.
- Ensuring appropriate initiatives are in place to support start-up companies, with structured mentorship for small businesses and targeted growth support for those who are more established.
- A plan to improve the sector’s uptake of business support, ensuring that fit-for-purpose information is championed and available within the industry.
- Welsh Government fully embracing the opportunities as part of its Cymraeg 2050 Welsh Language Strategy.
- Improved digital infrastructure across Wales, including broadband speed and access, to help content development for hybrid and remote working.
Flexible Learning is the Key to Wales’ Public Sector Talent Retention challenge
The Open University’s new report into public sector skills – Embracing Flexibility – highlights a desire for more flexibility and Learning & Development opportunities, in one of the largest UK-wide public sector employee surveys of recent times.
The report notes that adapting to a flexible hybrid working model is key to employee retention within the public sector, indicating that the pandemic’s effect on ways of working is here to stay – with three quarters (75%) of public sector employees in Wales stating that they are more likely to stay in a job that offered remote or hybrid working options.
Public sector workers also emphasised the importance of learning and development opportunities – with 80% of those people surveyed citing L&D as key to job satisfaction in the public sector.
The survey reports that a lack of flexibility is hindering training, with a quarter (27%) of respondents citing a lack of flexible working hours as a factor preventing public sector employees from participating in training opportunities.
That desire for flexibility is carried through to learning, with blended learning shown to be the preferred learning style at 51%; and distance learning chosen as the preferred style by 24% of the people surveyed.
Public sector employees also expressed a desire to upskill on technology and leadership – with ‘Leadership & Management’ training showing to be the most popular area of learning in the survey – and more than a third (37%) of Welsh public sector employees also registered a desire to improve their digital skills.
The report findings align with the bigger policy picture in Wales, with the Welsh Government already laying out its plans for a post-Covid remote working strategy which aims to see 30% of the Welsh workforce working at home or near home on a regular basis.
Blaenau Gwent business and talent inspired to grow through expert VISTA support
‘Facilitating new jobs, enhancing product creation and enabling the transfer of knowledge’ are just some of the objectives announced by VISTA (Valleys Innovation Showcase for Technological Advancement), a new business support programme launched in Blaenau Gwent.
This innovative new programme is being delivered in partnership by the University of South Wales (USW) and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council – with a mission to engage at least 20 businesses in the borough over the next four months, as part of a pilot programme that will offer a range of support options including access to leading academics and the opportunity to work with the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), a network of world-leading research and innovation centres working with advanced manufacturing companies around the globe.
Funded by the UK Government’s Community Renewal Fund, VISTA aims to connect enterprises for shared learning and create an Event Studio in Ebbw Vale to showcase the talent and expertise prevalent throughout the region. Support will be offered to businesses of all sizes including start-ups, including interactions with regional incubators.
Importantly, VISTA is also focused on engaging with school children and economically inactive people, to raise awareness of the opportunities in the region – and how people can get into work with leading businesses in the area.
Skills to support short-term growth proving to be the big winners in 2022
Professionals with the skills to support short-term growth are the big winners in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic, according to new data analysis from Robert Half.
With nearly three-quarters (73%) of senior business leaders reporting that they are more confident in their growth prospects for the next 12 months than the 12 months prior, many are investing in talent that can enhance growth strategies, pushing up demand (and salaries) in some sectors.
Robert Half experts reviewed salary data from thousands of placements across more than 200 finance, accounting, financial services, technology, HR and marketing roles – discovering that median starting salaries for professional services roles have increased by 4.9% over the past six months.
Businesses are hitting the ground running with revised growth strategies that include increasing headcount, driving customer growth and supporting demand – driving up salary levels significantly in four key areas over the past six months: HR (+24.5%), Marketing (+8.6%), Business Intelligence & Data Analytics (+7.7%), and Software Development & Testing (7.2%).
The sector average pay increase for skilled tech talent was 4.8% in the past six months; with salaries for tech transformation roles increasing by an average of 6.9%.
For more news and updates on skills and talent in Southeast Wales and beyond, go to www.venturewales.org