Skills and employability

Our vision is to support the Welsh higher education sector to enable and equip all of its graduates to develop the necessary knowledge, skills and attributes to meet their ambitions, and to provide graduates who are able to demonstrate and communicate their value to prospective employers and other stakeholders – in Wales and further afield.

We have three long standing priorities where we expect higher education providers to focus their effort:

  • Work placements and work experience
  • Employer approved courses
  • Embedding employability skills across all higher education curricula

Skills and employability cuts across a number of different policy areas such as learning and teaching, widening access, and innovation and engagement.

Meeting the needs of Wales

In February 2017, the Welsh Government (WG) published its Apprenticeship Skills policy plan, Aligning the Apprenticeship model to the needs of the Welsh economy. The Welsh Government set itself a target of 100,000 apprenticeship starts during the current Senedd term, as well as setting out a commitment to developing degree apprenticeships.

The Welsh Government funds degree apprenticeships through HEFCW in the initial priority areas of digital, engineering and advanced Manufacturing.  

Degree apprenticeships available 2020/21

Degree apprenticeships include a bachelor’s degree qualification, Level 6 as part of the qualification, and provide opportunities for individuals to complete a programme of learning and training that employers recognise and value.

Regional skills partnerships (RSPs) are local government led partnerships tasked with analysing economic challenges and likely growth areas to identify the local and national skills needs in partnership with employers and education and training providers. We encourage all higher education providers to engage with the RSPs and, where appropriate, inform and respond collaboratively to the RSPs’ annual skills plans to further meet the skill needs of Wales and improve innovation and productivity through the skilling and upskilling of new and existing employees.

The GO Wales: Achieve through Work Experience programme enables universities to support the employability skills of their students who are most at risk of not securing employment, education or further training on graduation, and to make links with employers who are in a position to host work experience.

In October 2021, we confirmed the arrangements for the new £1.5 million Graduate Support FundThe fund enables the universities to implement new initiatives and measures to support those who graduated during the pandemic to access work experience, moving them closer to the labour market and helping their transition into employment in a more competitive job environment.

In 2020 our annual HE Nation publication was Embedding Skills and Employability. This pre-Covid publication provided an insight into some of the ways that universities develop graduate skills to meet the demands of the labour market locally, nationally and internationally.