Deputy Minister Awards Essential Skills Employers & Employees

jeff cuthbert with staff from Calon Lan Home Care

The Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert, visited Coleg Llandrillo’s Rhos-on-Sea campus to see how the Welsh Government’s flagship Essential Skills in the Workplace (ESIW) programme is helping to improve the literacy, numeracy, ICT and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) skills of employees within their place of work.

As well as awarding over 40 learners with a range of certificates, the Deputy Minister also presented four local employers with their Employer Pledge awards for their commitment in supporting essential skills training for their individual workforces at the Essential Skills in the Workplace awards event. The Employer Pledge is a national strategy allowing employers to show their support for employees wanting to improve their literacy and numeracy skills.

The Deputy Minister was welcomed by Glyn Jones OBE, CEO of Grŵp Llandrillo Menai; Jackie Doodson, Principal of Coleg Llandrillo and Moya Seaman, Coleg Llandrillo’s Essential Skills Manager. Coleg Llandrillo, along with sister college Coleg Menai and Coleg Harlech WEA, were awarded over £1million between them to put together a package of funded training that is tailored specifically to both the needs of the employer and the employee. The programme aims to raise awareness of the need for a skilled workforce and to commit to supporting essential skills training in the workplace.

Speaking at the event, the Deputy Minister said: “The Welsh Government puts great store in upskilling the employees of Wales. Essential skills are paramount for a vibrant economy and the programme aims to increase the levels of skills to provide a literate and numerate workforce. I congratulate the learners and employers here today on their endeavours and would like to thank Coleg Llandrillo, Coleg Menai and Coleg Harlech WEA for their commitment to the cause.”

The three training partners are offering free training to employees to help them improve their essential skills without leaving their place of work. The programme, launched in November 2010, is part-financed by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government. The Government’s definition of essential skills is the ability to read, write and speak in English or Welsh, and to use mathematics, at a level necessary to function and progress both in work and society.

Learners represented a wide range of employers from across North and mid Wales in both the private and public sectors. These included Denbighshire County Council, Conwy County Borough Council, Tesco, RWE nPower Renewables, as well as several nursing and care homes.

Coleg Llandrillo’s Essential Skills in the Workplace Co-ordinator, Glyn Jones, said: “This is an excellent scheme that affords staff the opportunity to increase their levels of literacy and numeracy without attending college. Whether it’s in the private or public sector, improving these skills will help employees to do their jobs more effectively, give them the confidence to progress and improve productivity. The ESIW programme offers employers the chance to identify and address skills issues in their workplace, such as literacy, communication, numeracy and ICT.

The Welsh Government recently stated that its aim for education is to ‘help everyone reach their potential, to reduce inequality, and to improve economic and social well-being’. The Minister for Education and Skills’ priorities are improving standards of literacy and numeracy, and reducing the impact of deprivation on educational improvement.

Moya Seaman, Coleg Llandrillo’s Essential Skills Manager, said: “In partnership with our colleagues at Coleg Menai and Coleg Harlech, we are pleased to be able to offer this training across Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire and Gwynedd. We currently have 136 employers and over 400 staff engaged on the programme.

“Investing in the skills of staff will help companies improve productivity, increase accuracy and offer a better quality of service, thereby strengthening customer relations. By creating an atmosphere of initiative and innovation, employers involved will be seen as an employer of choice – helping them attract and retain the best staff.”

In addition, nearly 82% of small businesses in Wales have said they do not think school leavers have adequate numeracy and literacy skills, according to a survey published recently. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said there was a “disconnect” between what employers need and the basic skills of young job seekers.

The programme will identify any essential skills needs and provide additional and enhanced support to individuals in order to increase levels of essential skills within the workplace. It will also provide increased training for over a thousand essential skills tutors and mentors to provide essential skills support in new and innovative ways.

For more information on Essential Skills in the Workplace, contact Glyn Jones at Coleg Llandrillo on 01492 542 340 or email jones8g@gllm.ac.uk