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Having launched VQ Day 2015 here in Wales earlier this month, the latter is particularly relevant. High quality apprenticeships and other vocational qualifications should be a normal career pathway for many more young people, and a routine means through which businesses recruit and develop their talent pipeline.
It is natural for businesses to take stock of not only each financial year, but at the end of each calendar year too. As 2014 comes to a close and 2015 pushes its way to the fore, I have no doubt that industry leaders across the country will be taking time out to consider the ebb and flow of their order book in some form or another this Christmas.
Increasingly direct links between our education system and industry operators are helping business leaders get the support they need to sustain a robust and competitive economy, at what is a crucial time for many UK businesses.
A report out this summer revealed that only 19.5% of Welsh applications to Oxford and Cambridge were successful during the 2011-12 admissions cycle, compared to a success rate of 25% for England and Northern Ireland... Welsh industry most certainly does require that top level expertise if it is to continue to thrive.
If businesses are able to offer a transparent and viable pathway to full-time employment from the word go they will not only gain greater access to the skills they need, but also have chance to nurture the talent they find in a way best suited to them...
As the UK economy continues to improve, so does support for a new generation of employees that are increasingly adopting a 'work ready' attitude to life as they open their minds to the many different pathways to employment now on offer to them.
Spring has sprung here in Wales, and brought with it a number of green shoots in the process. According to recent labour market statistics, youth unemployment (16-24) is falling faster in Wales than in the rest of the UK.
News of an increase in British job vacancies this month came as somewhat bitter sweet to employers, training providers and government agencies, who remain united in tackling those challenges still faced by the UK economy.