NEW figures have shown a great leap forward for apprenticeships in Wales in 2013.
Success rates for apprenticeships remain well above 80 per cent and there has been the largest increase in the number of people in work-based learning for six years.
Statistics from the Welsh Government show that in 2011/12, the number of successfully completed apprenticeships rose to 13,230 – maintaining a success rate of above 80 per cent.
This compares to just 12,545 in 2007/08 – a success rate of 66 per cent.
Provisional figures released last month also show a six year high in the number of work based learners, with a 14.4 per cent rise from 2011/12 to over 61,000 learners in 2012/13.
Learner numbers on Foundation Apprenticeship programmes rose by 23.6 per cent.
For Paula Blundell, a 40-year-old mum from Bryn-Y-Baal, near Mold, a Foundation Apprenticeship opened up the door to an entirely new career path.
After securing a post as midday superviser at her son’s school and helping out in class, Paula decided to complete a Foundation Apprenticeship for Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools.
Paula’s outstanding work on the Foundation Apprenticeship led to her winning the Foundation Apprentice of the Year at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2013.
She is now working towards an apprenticeship and says that this opportunity has opened up a whole new world for her.
“I want to show other people who have a family to look after that it is never too late to learn," she said.
“I never thought I could do it, but I have and I am moving on to a higher level now. I am doing a job I love and I am looking forward to learning in the future and throughout my career.”
Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Ken Skates, said: “Figures released this year show the ever growing popularity of apprenticeships in Wales, with strong showings for both the number of work-based learners and the number of people completing an apprenticeship.
“Paula’s story shows us that it’s never too late to learn and change the course of your career.
“Apprenticeships provide learners with the skills, qualifications and experience they need while helping our businesses to grow.
“That’s why the Welsh Government is trying to encourage even more employers to invest in its Apprenticeship Programme, part financed by the European Social Fund, and why we’re investing a further £20 million in apprenticeships in 2015-16.”