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Apprentices deserve better financial support



More and better funding: Committee calls for better deal for apprentices

APPRENTICES in Wales should have similar access to financial support as University students.

That’s the main finding from the Assembly’s Economy Infrastructure and Skills Committee, which published its latest report on Apprenticeships in Wales on Thursday​ (Feb 14)​.

Committee Chair, Russell George AM, said: “Parity of esteem between vocational and academic routes needs to be underpinned by parity of support for learners.

“There is a strong moral case for the Welsh Government to apply similar levels of support to apprentices as would be available to their peers in full-time education.”

The Welsh Government has this week launched an advertising campaign to promote a new package of measures for university students which it describes as ​’​the most generous student support package in the UK​’​.

While apprentices receive a wage while they train, they are not eligible for the support available to students, which can make being an apprentice seem less attractive.

The Committee heard that some young people are deterred from entering apprenticeships by the initial costs involved. These can be relatively minor sums of money to travel to interviews, or the first few weeks of work before they get paid.

The Committee’s work found that while there is much that is positive about Apprenticeships in Wales there were a few surprises.

Mr George added: “We were surprised that the number of disabled apprentices in Wales was far below the rate achieved in England.

“We were also concerned that a lack of providers may be preventing young people undertaking apprenticeships through the medium of Welsh.

“There is still a stubborn gender segregation when we talk about apprenticeships. Both the Welsh Government and stakeholders are committed to address this, and are taking steps to do so, but progress has been slow. This issue is not unique to Wales.

“We are recommending annual publication of figures to maintain pressure and ensure that apprenticeships in Wales are available to all.”

The Committee also looked at the role of careers guidance for young people – particularly in schools – to ensure they are being made aware of vocational as well as academic options.

Mr George added: “During the course of our investigation we heard concerns about the way careers advice is delivered in schools. Our additional scrutiny in this area has given us assurance that Careers Wales has a credible plan, and is working closely with the Welsh Government and schools to address these issues. We will keep an eye on whether this proves successful.​”​


New lease of life for rescue dog



Duke the dog: Complete with 3D printed leg

A DOG that could hardly walk has been given a new lease of life after a 3D printed leg was made for him by CBM, a research company established by UWTSD.

Rescue dog Duke, an Irish retriever, was born with a birth defect in his front right leg and faced having it amputated.

But he is now running around after Swansea printing firm CBM made him a leg similar to blades used by Paralympians.

New owner Phil Brown, from Bristol, said it had been ​’​life changing​’​.

When Duke was found abandoned by the Irish Retriever Rescue (IRR) charity in Ireland in 2016, his paw was deformed and he could not walk on all fours.

He was taken to the pound and rehomed with foster owners the Browns, who have since adopted him as their own as they could not bear to part with the loveable pooch.

After a massive fundraising campaign by the charity Duke has been fitted with a state-of-the-art prosthetic by CBM, after narrowly avoiding having his foot amputated.

His new owner said Duke, who is now three, was delighted by his new ​’​super leg​’​ which meant he was walking on four paws for the first time.

Mr Brown, who owns other dogs which Duke is enjoying playing with, said: “He had a very tough start in life.

“This is an absolute life changer for him, it really is. He can now walk on it, he can now run at a slow speed.”

Mr Brown said the three-dimensional leg was about a year in a making, and a few months down the line Duke is getting so much use out of it he has already had to have it refurbished.

The leg was entirely printed out of a machine apart from a rubber foot, some Velcro and foam at the top to make it more comfortable for Duke.

CBM product designer Benjamin Alport said creating Duke’s leg was a real challenge for the team, who worked with his new owner and a consultant orthopaedic surgeon on the design.

“We had to go down and assess Duke. We had to consider right down to the thickness of the hairs because you have to take into account the smallest things,” he said.

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Kellogg’s backs breakfast clubs



Improving attendance and attainment: Breakfast clubs

KELLOGG’S is celebrating 20 years of championing breakfast clubs by offering schools across the country the chance to get their hands on £1,000.

To mark the anniversary, the cereal giant will be giving a £1,000 grant away every school day of 2018.

Schools can apply for a Kellogg’s grant by visiting

The scheme marks the 20th anniversary of the Kellogg’s Breakfast Club programme, which has provided £3 million of investment to schools and 70 million bowls of cereal since 1998.

Research shows that breakfast clubs help with everything from attendance and attainment to alleviating hunger and providing pre-school care.

They are a lifeline for many teachers as 68 per cent of teachers believe pupils would struggle to concentrate in class without their breakfast club, according to a report by Kellogg’s.

Kate Prince, from Kellogg’s, said: “We believe all children should have the opportunity to start the day with breakfast so we’re proud to have spent 20 years supporting so many schools across the UK.

“The £1,000 we’re offering in 2018 underpins our pride and continuing commitment to our breakfast club programme.”

Kellogg’s currently has 3000 schools signed up to its network, offering them a range of resources and provisions to help them operate sustainable and effective breakfast clubs.

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Former minister lectures on Facebook and democracy



Leighton Andrews: Raising questions about regulation

THE EVER increasing influence of social media on democracy will be the focus for a public lecture at Aberystwyth University on Thursday, March 22.

Facebook, The Media and Democracy will be delivered by Former Welsh Government Minister Professor Leighton Andrews of the Cardiff Business School.

Hosted by​ ​The Global Communications Research Centre and the Aberystwyth Law School, the lecture takes place at 4:10pm in the Main Hall of the Department of International Politics.

Facebook now has over two billion users across the globe and owns other key communication applications including Instagram and WhatsApp, giving it unprecedented market power.

It is a major player in shaping whole societies through its role in media dissemination, civic organization and as an electoral platform.

Professor Gary Rawnsley, Director of the Global Communications Research Centre and Professor of Public Diplomacy​,​ said: “We are looking forward to co-hosting the lecture with Aberystwyth Law School on such a hot topic. Facebook is constantly changing the face of politics, engagement and democracy at an unprecedented speed and arguments for and against regulation are evolving on a daily basis.

“The role of social media is changing the future of society and democracy, but following the recent controversy regarding ‘Fake News’ in the USA and UK, its dominance is under challenge from regulators and law-makers. The lecture will raise regulatory questions around big data and the internet platforms.”

Professor Leighton Andrews will be introduced by Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University.

Professor Andrews is now Professor of Practice in Public Service Leadership and Innovation at Cardiff Business School.

He served as Minister for Education and Skills and Minister for Public Services in Carwyn Jones’s Welsh Labour Governments between 2009 and 2016, and Deputy Minister in Rhodri Morgan’s One Wales Government from 2007 until 2009, and was the Assembly Member for the Rhondda from 2003 until 2016.

Prior to his election to the National Assembly in 2003, Professor Andrews had a successful career in the private, public and voluntary sectors, and was the BBC’s Head of Public Affairs in London from 1993-1996, during its Charter Renewal campaign.

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