Ten-year strategy to drive up skills in Wales launched
A 10-year strategy to improve skill levels in Wales has been launched by the Welsh government.
The ideas include creating a "flexible fund" to help key companies get the skilled workforce they need.
There are also proposals to streamline and simplify employment and skills support, and cut duplication.
Ministers said action was needed to help Wales to compete in a "global race to develop our skills" and "evolve into a highly-skilled economy".
Deputy Skills Minister Ken Skates unveiled the plans at Coleg Cambria's Deeside Campus.
The document lists four priorities:
- Finding ways to stimulate demand for a more highly skilled society
- Developing skills that reflect the needs of local communities
- Getting employers involved and investing in skills, as well as government
- Offering employment support needed to get people into work and progressing in that employment
Before the launch, Mr Skates said a "step change" on skills was needed.
Businesses often report that skills is one of the top issues for them.
In a globally competitive marketplace, it is also vital in encouraging investors to set up their companies here.
The Welsh government outlined four main priorities including responding to the needs of local communities and ensuring employers are getting the skills they need to help them grow their businesses.
It will give more support to companies and people looking to access training.
Ministers add that businesses will need to take more responsibility for their employees' development but they say the Welsh government will help with investment.
"Our economy is changing and, if we're to attract the more high-skilled jobs we need to see, then we need to take action now," he said.
"This means addressing the essential skills not only of people who are in the workplace, but people who are unemployed and young people who will soon be entering the labour market.
"We also need to address the skills gaps that exist in our workforce.
"If we're to succeed in doing this we need employers of all sizes to work with us and invest in the skills of their employees.
"Ultimately, these are the same skills that will define our future competitiveness as a nation."
The event took place a day after researchers forecast that nearly 18,000 new construction jobs were expected to be created in Wales over the next five years.
The Construction Skills Network (CSN) said the industry in Wales would grow 3.4% annually between now and 2018, boosted by work on the new Wylfa nuclear power station on Anglesey.
CSN predicted Wales' output growth would be above the UK average of 2%.