THE number of manufacturing apprenticeships in Wales is “dismal”, a Gwent AM has claimed.
Plaid Cymru’s Steffan Lewis was speaking after figures showed six per cent of all apprenticeships in Wales were in the sector in the 2006-2007 financial year. But this has fallen to two per cent in 2014-2015.
Mr Lewis, who has represented South Wales East since last May, said the figures showed the Welsh Government was “dithering” over the economy.
“As a country once proud of its industrial and manufacturing clout, it is sad that the proportion of apprenticeships in Wales in manufacturing fell from a poor six per cent in 2006/7 to a dismal two per cent in 2014/5,” he said.
“In Gwent, manufacturing apprenticeships make up just to per cent of all apprenticeships.”
Saying Wales needs a new industrial plan “as a matter of urgency”, he added: “The Welsh Government has been dithering.
“They have been in office for over a year and still haven’t produced a plan for making Wales an industrial powerhouse.”
Mr Lewis added: “What hope is there for a future for industry in Wales if we’re not providing young people with the skills they need to succeed in modern industry?”
But a Welsh Government spokeswoman said Mr Lewis’ claims were “selected and misleading” and “do not accurately reflect Wales’ wider manufacturing successes over recent years”.
“Manufacturing is a key and growing sector of the Welsh economy,” she said.
She added manufacturing accounted for 16.1 per cent of Wales’ economy and 10.8 per cent of people in the country work in the sector, compared with 7.6 per cent across the whole UK.
“Our commitment to growing Wales’ manufacturing sector has never been more focussed,” she said.
“We are working hard to support skills development and job opportunities across this important industry.”
The Welsh Government has committed to creating 100,000 apprenticeships during this Assembly term and invested an extra £15.5 million in the sector this year.