The further education sector in Wales needs strengthening to face future challenges, according to Plaid Cymru’s shadow secretary for education and young people.
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, was speaking at the launch of a Senedd exhibition showcasing the variety of learning options available at Wales’ leading Further Education Institutions. AMs were invited to trial activities and the wealth of opportunities available to those post-16 across Wales.
The event was co-ordinated by ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, the charity representing Wales’ 14 further education colleges and institutions, which raises the profile of further education among decision-makers to improve educational opportunities in Wales.
Speakers at the event, sponsored by Llyr Gruffydd, AM included Alys Evans, an award-winning Level 3 Patisserie and Confection student at Coleg y Cymoedd and Dave Vaughan, founder of Dave’s Quails and a former NPTC Group college student.
Former drug and alcohol addict and Big Issue seller Scott Jenkinson studied for a Certificate Diploma in Social Sciences at Coleg Harlech before later progressing to a Psychology and Criminology degree at Bangor University and also spoke about the invaluable support he has received from Adult Learning Wales.
Llyr Gruffydd said, “Further Education is a sector we must not only support but must strengthen.
“The danger is that we sometimes take the sector for granted and that we just presume that it’s there and that it’s carrying on its good work.
“We don’t always appreciate the breadth of opportunities that it offers us as young people and adults as well – the work that’s happening directly with schools and businesses and it is so graphically demonstrated in events like this one today. Let’s make sure that we nail the message that Further Education has a key central role to play in the future for our country, our young people our adults, our economy and every other sector as well.”
Coleg Cambria in Wrexham demonstrated Virtual Reality gaming and visitors were also able to hear about learner options in robotic programming at Bridgend College by speaking with robots Pepper and Welsh learner robot Si.
Iestyn Davies, CEO of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales concluded, “We’ve talked about the power of education to transform and provide second chance opportunities. Today has been about ensuring that today’s young people or young learners have the opportunity in five or ten years’ time to study within the FE sector.
“It’s really concerning to me at this point in time that there is no long-term plan in further education or no detailed roadmap for how we go from what we’ve got today to what we need for the future to make sure our young people and adult learners have the skills that business needs and that society so demands for the 21st Century. It’s been a great day, but there is still so much more that needs to be done.”