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Wales’s biggest college group pilots free courses for workers earning less than £26K

A national initiative to help adults in employment access lifelong learning and training opportunities is being piloted in North Wales by Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, Wales’s largest provider of further education.

Through the Welsh Government’s innovative Personal Learning Account programme, free courses are available to people over 19 who are employed and earning an annual salary of less than £26,000.

The aim of the Personal Learning Account (PLA) programme is to remove barriers to learning and upskilling among adults and address the rising skill shortages facing priority sectors in Wales.

The pilot programme will be run over two years with a range of courses available at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s campuses across the engineering, construction and ICT sectors.

Coleg Llandrillo College in Rhos on Sea
(Image: David Powell)

Dafydd Evans, chief executive officer of Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, said: “We are extremely proud to have been selected by the Welsh Government as a partner to deliver this pilot programme.

“The PLA is a transformational project, which is already helping to empower people with the skills they need to achieve their career goals, either to progress and apply for new jobs within their existing career or to follow a different path altogether.

“As a leading FE provider, it also assists us to equip our learners as well as the local workforce with the skills they need to be able to capitalise on career opportunities within key growth industries, both now and in the future.”

He added: “Especially given the current economic climate, we know that people who are already in employment are discouraged from committing to upskilling when faced with common barriers such as a perceived lack of time, money, skills or qualifications.

Grwp Llandrillo Menai chief executive Dafydd Evans

“The PLA initiative breaks down those barriers by giving people the chance to access free, part-time courses that offer flexible and convenient learning around their existing lifestyle.”

One participant, Andy Lovett, currently works for the Department of Work and Pensions, but is considering a change of career. After hearing about the PLA, he enrolled on a nationally recognised 4-day Counterbalance Fork Lift Truck Training course at the brand new Centre for Infrastructure, Skills and Technology (CIST) on Coleg Menai’s Llangefni Campus.

Andy Lovett enrolled on a nationally recognised 4-day Counterbalance Fork Lift Truck Training course
(Image: Grwp Llandrillo Menai)

Andy said: “It is a brilliant scheme. If you are eligible, you can get training for free. It really helps you to diversify your employability options. The course was easy to get on, it was surprisingly easy and the tutor from the college gave good career advice. 

“My ambition is to work in manufacturing plants and warehouses and the PLA has been a positive step towards making that happen. From deciding that I wanted to make a change in my career to getting on a course, it only took 3-4 weeks.”

Since its launch in September 2019, 39 eligible adults have applied for courses at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai through the PLA, with 23 already having started learning and the remainder ready to start in the new year.

  • To get more information contact Grŵp Llandrillo Menai on 01492 542338 and ask to speak to their career advisers, send an email to changeyourstory@gllm.ac.uk or alternatively call Working Wales on 0800 028 4844.

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