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Training providers seek clarity on the Apprenticeship Levy

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builders1THE ORGANISATION that represents work-based training providers in Wales has written to the Welsh and UK Governments seeking detailed information about how the new Apprenticeship Levy will impact on the nation’s highly successful apprenticeship programme.

The National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW) wants a commitment from both governments that all money raised by the levy is fairly distributed across the UK for employers to spend on apprenticeships.

The NTfW has also called for a meeting with UK Skills Minister Nick Bowles to discuss the practical implications of the levy, which was highlighted by Chancellor George Osborne in the UK Government’s recent Comprehensive Spending Review.

Concerns have been raised by the NTfW, echoed by Wales’ Deputy Minister for Skills, Julie James, that a levy of 0.5% of payroll costs on all large UK employers to fund new apprenticeships paid through PAYE will have major consequences for the Welsh Government’s own apprenticeship programme

Due to be introduced in 2017, the levy will apply to both private and public sector employers and there are concerns that the knock on effects on employers, funding and the current apprenticeship programme in Wales have not been fully considered.

UK Government’s ‘Vision for 2020’ states: “By 2019-20, the levy is expected to raise £3 billion in the UK. Spending on apprenticeships in England will be £2.5 billion, and Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland will receive their fair share of the levy.”

The NTfW is keen to establish what methodology the UK Government plans to use to ensure that Wales receives its ‘fair share’ and how it envisages that money raised by the levy will be allocated to the nation.

A report commissioned by the NTfW earlier this year revealed that apprenticeships in Wales generate more than £1 billion a year for the nation’s economy and represent excellent investment for the Welsh Government.

Peter Rees, NTfW chairman, said: “There is a great deal of concern amongst our membership that a decision has been made in Westminster which has had very little regard for the potential impact on apprenticeships policy here in Wales. After all, this is a devolved matter.

“We are not against the principle of an apprenticeships levy. In fact, in our response to the Welsh Government’s consultation on co-investment in skills, we encouraged them to explore how this could work in Wales.

“We agree with the Welsh Government when they say that the announcement of the UK Apprenticeships Levy has cut across the devolution of skills policy and has only served to confuse the situation for employers. That’s why we have written to both the Welsh Government and the UK Government to seek clarity on the situation.

“We are calling for an immediate analysis of how the levy can be used to increase the uptake of apprenticeships here in Wales in a way that minimises bureaucracy for employers, maintains Wales’ high quality provision and ensures that the backbone of the Welsh economy – micro and small businesses – are not forgotten as large employers race to recoup what they have paid in.

“As a Network, we remain committed to delivering high quality apprenticeships for individuals and employers across Wales. We will continue to work with the Welsh and UK Governments to understand the detail of the levy and its potential impacts, in order that we can keep employers and their representative bodies informed of developments.”

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Business

Freeport status ‘key’ to unlocking potential

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FREEPORT status for Pembroke Port could unlock a multitude of employment and economic opportunities for the local area.

That’s the belief of Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire Senedd candidate Samuel Kurtz.

While freeports are a Westminster policy, the Welsh Government are involved in the process but they have been far from enthusiastic over its potential benefits. 

Commenting, Cllr Samuel Kurtz said: “Freeport status for Pembroke Port would turbo charge the recovery of the local economy, helping to boost employment opportunities for people in Pembroke, Pembroke Dock and the local area.
“That fact that the Labour government in Cardiff have sat on their hands over freeports, while England has already announced its freeport locations, shows the party has little regard for helping the economy recover and grow. 
“This is a key policy that shouldn’t be overlooked simply because of party politics. Recovering from the effects of the pandemic needs collaborative work between Cardiff, London and local authorities.”  

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Business

Port of Milford Haven confirms compliance with National Marine Safety Code

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THE PORT OF MILFORD HAVEN has confirmed its compliance with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency’s Port Marine Safety Code (PMSC).

The confirmation comes following an audit by leading maritime consultants ABPmer.

The Port Marine Safety Code is a national standard that applies to all harbour authorities. The Code and its accompanying guidance provide an essential toolbox to ensure the control of risk and the maintenance of safety in ports and in the marine environment.

Port of Milford Haven’s Harbourmaster and Marine Director Mike Ryan is proud of the Port’s continued compliance with the Code.

“This is further endorsement and confirmation of everyone’s commitment here at the Port of Milford Haven to providing a safe operation for all port users,” said Mike.

Monty Smedley, ABPmer’s Lead PMSC Auditor, who conducted the audit, said: “I am very pleased to confirm to the Port of Milford Haven’s Board that their harbour operations demonstrated compliance with the requirements of the Code, with many examples that we considered to be industry best practice.”

The MCA’s Ports and VTS Policy Manager, James Hannon, who leads PMSC compliance for the UK government said: “The Code is recognised across the industry and has been developed in partnership by the UK government and industry over the last two decades. The resources set out how ports can assess risks, design safety management systems, and also install governance processes to ensure that a Designated Person is able to evaluate controls and report directly to port duty holders and boards.”

The Port of Milford Haven’s Board formally declares its compliance with the Port Marine Safety Code to the MCA every three years.

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Pembrokeshire business encourages others to take advantage of free courses

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IN LIGHT of the recent Welsh Government announcement on the re-opening of the Welsh tourism sector, Wales. A Food Destination is running a number of masterclass sessions tailored for the hospitality sector.

Wales. A Food Destination is a project which specialises in supporting retail and hospitality businesses to source, serve and sell Welsh food and drink through cafes, restaurants, shops, farmers markets, food festivals, B&B’s and tourist attractions.

Throughout April virtual workshop sessions will take place, covering a variety of areas such as local food and drink pairing, breakfast menu inspiration, how to offer the best customer experience possible, through to creating an authentic local eating experience, with a particular focus on sourcing local ingredients.

According to Laura Alexander, co-coordinator for Wales. A Food Destination, the aim is to give a helping hand to those in the sector looking to source, serve and sell Welsh food in a post Covid world,

“It is great that we are able to offer such a diverse range of training opportunities to hospitality businesses in Wales as the sector prepares to re-open. We know that a lot of businesses have been closed for a long time now, and are looking forward to re-opening and refreshing what they have to offer. We are keen to support them with opportunities for learning.

“The masterclass sessions will hopefully assist businesses in recognising how our first rate produce can make their offer even more attractive and help in boosting the sector at such a crucial time.”

One business who have benefitted from attending one of the recent workshops is Melin Tregwynt, based in Haverfordwest.

“It was great to take the time to look at what we can do to prepare for whatever re-opening throws our way this year. Also to be able to access such a brilliant resource of recipes, information and ideas. Thank you to all involved in delivering these courses.”

The good news is that all courses are delivered virtually and are fully funded for any business who sources, serves and sells Welsh food.

For a full list of courses available, please visit https://www.foodskills.cymru/wales-a-food-destination/events/

Wales. A Food Destination project offers fully funded one-to-one consultations, so if you are a retail and hospitality business and are looking for support or advice then please contact Laura Alexander at wales@lantra.co.uk.

Wales. A Food Destination is a project funded by the Welsh Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. Its aim is to support businesses source, serve and sell Welsh Food & Drink.

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