David Roberts, chair of the North Wales Regional Skills Partnership

LEADING colleges @colegcambria and @ucugllm joined forces to provide furloughed, at risk and low-paid workers with an opportunity for change.

Coleg Cambria and Grwp Llandrillo Menai have united with North Wales Regional Skills Partnership to promote the Personal Learning Account (PLA) scheme.

PLAs give anyone over the age of 19 and living in Wales, in employment earning less than £26,000 or on a zero hours contract, furloughed or at risk of redundancy, access to part-time courses that will enable them to find employment or switch careers.

Both FE institutions offer a range of qualifications in myriad sectors including engineering, construction, IT, financial services, digital, and tourism and hospitality.

Aimed at individuals wanting to study Level 3 and above, gaining higher skills online and – when it is safe to do so – in the classroom, it has already proven popular via a pilot project launched last year by Grwp Llandrillo Menai and Coleg Gwent.

David Roberts, chair of the North Wales Regional Skills Partnership, said:

“It is fantastic to see two of the UK’s leading colleges come together to encourage career progression and support at-risk workers when they need it most.

“This is a time of great uncertainty for so many people across the region; the PLA scheme gives them a platform to learn new skills and access first-class training and support.

“Working together is the only way we are going to overcome the challenges of this year, and this is a free, alternative pathway that will provide an opportunity for change.”

For those not eligible for a PLA, both colleges also support the Skills for Employers and Employees (SEE) project which provides businesses across North Wales with financial backing to raise employee skills and knowledge in a range of arenas from advanced manufacturing to energy and professional services.

Vicky Barwis, Vice Principal for Work-based Learning and Employer Engagement at Coleg Cambria, said:

“Ultimately, this partnership is about identifying opportunities, plugging the skills gap in North Wales and being there to support the many people who are at risk of losing their jobs.

“Whether that be because of the pandemic or other economic and personal factors, there are options available to help and support you in finding and achieving your chosen career.”

James Nelson, Executive Director of Academic Services at Grwp Llandrillo Menai, added:

“By coming together we have made PLAs more accessible to people across the whole of North Wales.

“We hope those affected will capitalise on the funding available and it gives them some peace of mind at this challenging time for all industries.”

The partnership is supported by North Wales Economic Ambition Board.

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