Supporting the ColegauCymru conference as Headline Sponsor: Addressing the issues and opportunities facing skills development in Wales

Additional funding for Functional Skills reflects the importance of maths and English skills for individuals and for our economy.

09 November 2023

Gweld y dudalen hon yn Gymraeg

This year’s annual ColegauCymru Conference took place on the 12 October at the Hilton Hotel in Cardiff and City & Guilds was honoured to be the headline sponsor at the event which brought together educators and industry leaders to discuss the key issues facing Welsh further education.

With the landscape of education in Wales expected to transform significantly following the announcement of plans to overhaul the delivery and governance of post-16 skills development, there was plenty to be discussed by the attendees and speakers present. With these conversations occurring throughout what is a vital event on the Wales education calendar, we were pleased to have Angharad Lloyd-Beynon, Sian Beddis and Eric Oliver attending the conference as representatives of City & Guilds.

Pre-event networking opportunity

As a precursor to the conference on 11 October Angharad attended a dinner with the college principals and CEOs invited to the event at the Y Dosbarth training restaurant at Cardiff and Vale College. As well as providing an opportunity for her to speak directly to key decision makers, this also offered a chance to see City & Guilds’ skills development in action with the food at the restaurant prepared and served by learners studying for City & Guilds qualifications.

The guests at the dinner also heard from the speaker for the evening, Rhun ap Iorwerth the leader of Plaid Cymru. Rhun shared his thoughts on the importance of Further Education colleges in Wales and the opportunities that they can offer for young people to develop crucial skills to secure employment.

Insights from the ColegauCymru conference 2023

The conference opened the next day with an atmosphere of enthusiasm amongst attendees. With this being the first in person ColegauCymru conference since 2019, this was a fantastic chance for those working in education in Wales to get together and share their experiences and their expectations for the coming years in Welsh education.

Following the first of the panel discussion, attendees were addressed by Jeremy Miles MS, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language. In this keynote speech he emphasised his continued support of the further education sector in Wales, recognising the value it brings in supporting learners and communities and in helping to develop a strong Welsh economy for the future. This is a vital vote of confidence for the work that the training providers and employers we work with throughout Wales, showing the importance of training and skills development to Wales’ future.

Angharad was next up on stage where she was able to offer insights into the work City & Guilds is doing in Wales to the 150 people in attendance. This included highlighting the range of qualifications that have been made available for Welsh learners and particularly the work being done as part of the City & Guilds Foundation to fund a variety of projects in Wales.

This speech was also a chance to congratulate the Princess Royal Training Award recipients that were in attendance, celebrating the Welsh organisations that have implemented outstanding training and skills development that lead to organisational benefits. Angharad also spoke about everything that City & Guilds is currently doing to support Welsh Governments target of One Million Welsh Speakers by 2050.

Angharad commented “As you can imagine, I was nervous to be speaking to such a large audience that included colleagues from the Welsh Government, Qualifications Wales and representatives from all the Colleges in Wales including Principals, CEOs and many other key stakeholders.”

After these initial speeches, attendees then heard from a range of guest speakers who provided interesting and thought-provoking dialogue on future skills needs in Wales, the learner experience, and how the new Commission will support the FE sector going forward. With representatives from Wales TUC Cymru, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Learning & Work Institute Wales all demonstrating their knowledge and experience of learning and development in Wales, there was a wide range of valuable expertise on show.

In summary: vital insights and preparations for the future

A particular highlight of the conference for everyone in attendance was the vibrant discussions that took place across all eight workshops, with topics including a VET strategy for Wales, implementing a bilingual future for FE, and navigating the opportunities and challenges of AI. The value of these discussions underscores the fantastic opportunity that this event provides for some of the most influential people in Welsh education to come together and work through the issues facing learners and providers in Wales.

The ColegauCymru Conference 2023 highlighted the strong commitment of those in every part of the training ecosystem in Wales to supporting learners at all levels. By providing a platform to discuss the challenges facing training and skills development in Wales, the conference also gave attendees the chance to talk about solutions and continue to work together to create a bright future for Wales.

Find out more about our work in Wales