Wales

Skillscymru event in Cardiff for next generation

Visitors to skillscymru at the Millennium Stadium
Image caption The skillscymru event is at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff until Saturday

A lot of fun has been had at skillscymru by thousands of schoolchildren, who have been given the chance to have a bash at everything from hairdressing to carpentry.

Cardiff's Millennium Stadium has been hosting about the liveliest and largest careers events I've ever been to.

But behind the fun, there are some serious messages from those in the know.

The most serious is the acute shortage of skills in so many sectors and industries in Wales.

That was the message from Barry Liles, from Coleg Sir Gar in Llanelli, and now one of the assembly government's new skills champions.

He believes the problem has been partly caused as older skilled workers retire and also as a result of cuts to training budgets in the recession.

Mr Liles was quite clear that the implications for the economy will be that factories close and companies go out of business.

The problem is particularly acute in the unfashionable sectors such as engineering and construction. That was echoed by the Sector Skills Council, the organisation that officially acts as the body between industry and education.

Image caption A £28m plan to offer subsidised management and leadership courses was announced at the event

It believes one of the main problems is that teenagers are more attracted to the more glamorous professions which is a challenge when areas like manufacturing need people with science-based qualifications.

Health and beauty

I can vouch for that today with long queues for health and beauty demonstrations, but less so for some of the engineering devices on display.

The big issue is whether young men and women are job-ready when they finish their courses.

One of the big employers at the event, Adrian Clark from Legal and General in Cardiff, which employs 1600 people, said there also has to be a responsibility on employers to provide training.

He says it is unrealistic to expect the finished article from college or university-leavers, particularly when much of the training will be so specific to the company.

We were told repeatedly during the recession that an upskilled workforce would help the country recover.

The assembly government, which is organising the event, spends about £180m a year on training and skills for people for the workforce.

There are subsidised training courses available for apprentices and today a £28m scheme was announced to offer subsidised management and leadership courses.

The big question is whether it delivers.

Much of the criticism of previous training schemes from business is that they too often teach skills to people that industry doesn't want or need.

The big challenge will be bringing education and the brutal reality of the jobs market closer together.

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