The Welsh Government has launched a £40 million skills and jobs fund as it pledges to support everyone to find work, education or training or help to start their own business.

The ambitious fund is part of a longer-term plan to help Wales recover from coronavirus.

Today’s announcement builds on a £50m package for skills and learning targeted towards higher and further education unveiled by Education Minister Kirsty Williams last week.

At the heart of the new funding is a pledge that everyone over 16 will receive the assistance they need to access advice and support to find work or to pursue self-employment or to find and take up a place in education or training.

More support for apprenticeships will be available, together with traineeships, redundancy assistance, retraining programmes and careers advice – all will be crucial in helping to address an expected rise in unemployment and the risk of deepening economic inequality caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Finance Minister and Trefnydd, Rebecca Evans, said: “Coronavirus threatens to severely affect all the progress we’ve made in reducing unemployment and economic inactivity in Wales over the last decade. This investment in jobs and skills will be vital in helping soften the impact of the pandemic and will be key to driving our economic recovery.”

The £40 million package will provide:

  • More than £20 million to incentivise employers to recruit and retain 5,000 apprentices, increase the capacity of traineeship programmes and support more graduates to access work experience, work tasters and paid work placements.
  • Almost £9 million to help workers access retraining and find new employment, including in areas of skills demand, through ReACT and the Union Learning Fund. This includes the national roll-out of the personal learning accounts programme so an additional 2,000 people can learn new skills and gain new qualifications.
  • Funding for traineeships, Working Wales and Communities for Work Plus will be increased to help match people to job opportunities and promote self-employment and new ways of working, as well as funding to support employer-led training through the Flexible Skills programme.
  • There will be support for a new Barriers Fund, offering up to £2,000 to support people who may not have previously considered self-employment, in particular women, young people, people from BAME communities and disabled people.

An organisation that represents more than 70 quality work-based learning providers has warmly welcomed the £40 million skills and jobs fund.

Jeff Protheroe, the The National Training Federation for Wales's director of operations, said: "What has been put forward today will ensure that there is not only a safety net for all those individuals at risk, but also a springboard for those who wish to secure a better future, as part of Wales's wider economic recovery plan.

“We know that young people are already being adversely affected by the current economic climate and, unless there is government intervention, this will create another 'lost generation'."