• Together for our economy-Welsh Labour’s pledge to create 100,000 high quality apprenticeships

    Julie James AM has celebrated Apprenticeship Week 2016 by highlighting Welsh Labour’s plan to create 100,000 high quality all-age apprenticeships if it wins the Assembly election.

    The commitment is one of six key pledges the party has launched ahead of the Assembly poll in May.

    Last year nearly 20,000 apprenticeships were started across Wales.

    A recent National Training Federation for Wales report said that apprenticeships generate over £1bn for the Welsh economy annually with a £74 return to the economy for every £1 invested in an apprenticeship.

    Apprenticeship Week runs from 14th -18th March.

    Ms James AM said:

    “Welsh Labour has helped create thousands of good quality apprenticeships over the last five years and developed a strong track record of high quality vocational learning.

    “This has helped us generate record levels of inward investment and make Wales an attractive place to come and do business.

    “This success of our Welsh Labour Government has come from the partnership it has built with businesses right across Wales over the last few years. Our apprenticeships and Jobs Growth Wales programmes have been hugely successful in helping individuals to raise their skills and in allowing local businesses to expand and grow.

    “In the next Assembly term Welsh Labour will strengthen this partnership with business and create a minimum of 100,000 high-quality all age apprenticeships in the areas where our economy needs to expand.

    “The Welsh economy will need a workforce with higher level skills to compete in the global economy of the future and to keep inward investment strong. Our pledge is to create high quality apprenticeships that match the ambitions of our apprentices and meet the skills needs of our growing economy.

    “Through this pledge we will build on the solid economic foundations we have laid over the last few years and create better opportunities for people to get on.

    “Together for our economy, Welsh Labour recognises that when our economy succeeds, Wales succeeds. This pledge will help us achieve the economic growth Wales needs over the next few years.”

  • Welsh Government continues to deliver on its promise to give 36,000 children a Flying Start in life

    New statistics reveal the Welsh Government is on track to meet its ambitious target of providing Flying Start services to 36,000 children for the second year running.

    Figures out today show 33,252 children benefitted from Flying Start between April and December 2015. This is over 600 more children than benefited at the equivalent stage in 2014-15, a year in which the programme was delivered to more than 37,000 children – reaching and exceeding the Welsh Government’s target a year early.

    Flying Start supports families living in some of the most disadvantaged communities across Wales. It offers 12 and a half hours of high quality childcare a week for 2-3 year olds; support for the development of children’s speech, language and communication; parenting support; and an enhanced health visitor service.

    Giving children the best possible start in life is a key priority for the Welsh Government, which is why funding for the early years programme was fully protected in the recent Draft Budget and will be maintained at almost £77 million in 2016/17,  in spite of significant cuts to the Welsh Government’s own budget.

    Communities and Tackling Poverty Minister, Lesley Griffiths, has welcomed today’s figures:

    “I am delighted the latest figures show we are well on track to deliver on our commitment to provide Flying Start support to 36,000 children again this year.

    “Giving children the best possible start in life has been one of this Government’s key priorities, which is why we have invested almost half a billion pounds in the scheme since 2006. Our communities are reaping the rewards of this investment, with thousands more families now able to access high quality childcare, support for children’s speech, language, and communication, as well as parenting support, and an enhanced health visitor service.

    “Time and time again I have spoken to teachers who say they can clearly see the benefits Flying Start gives children, preparing them for the challenges and opportunities they face as they get older. The £77m we have allocated for the programme in 2016/17 will ensure children across Wales continue to get a Flying Start in life.”


  • Most families secure first choice schools for children in Swansea

    Swansea West AM, Julie James has welcomed Swansea Council’s announcement that thousands of parents are celebrating their child getting into their first-choice secondary school this September.

    The Local Authority announced that 99 percent of applications made online, within the deadline, secured a place at their first choice school.

    Ms James AM was delighted that so many families are receiving their first choice placement.

    “I am glad that many parents will see their child go to their first choice school, it can make such a difference to a young person’s transition to secondary education.”

    Local Authorities in Wales compared to England still have the power to plan for school places, as the Welsh Labour Government have a policy against free schools or academies.

    Ms James said: “I am proud that the Welsh Labour Government have made sure that Local Authorities still hold the power to determine school places. If we look over the border with what is happening in England with the rise of free schools and academies, the figures for children getting into their first choice school are abysmal.”

    Ms James also congratulated the Council for their innovative approach to getting parents to apply and secure places at secondary school, with more than 2,500 applications made for transition to Year 7.

    “The online system has clearly worked with such a high percentage gaining admittance to their first choice school. It made what can be a stressful process simpler and the results speak for themselves.”

    “I wish those young people all the best in their new schools and I hope education in the Local Authority can have another record breaking year.”

    Any family not offered their first choice school has been offered an alternative and the chance to appeal against the decision.

    Details on that process are available on the Council’s website at http://www.swansea.gov.uk/article/2581/Admission-arrangements-to-secondary-schools and on the Information for Parents booklet at http://www.swansea.gov.uk/informationforparents

    Any parent who has still not applied for a reception or Year 7 place for their child in September 2016 should contact the Council’s School and Governor Team on 01792 636550 as soon as possible.