6 March 2012
Colleges’ ambition: a bilingual workforce
Taking pride in the Welsh language and recognising its benefits in the world of work were the key messages at the first event of its kind for Welsh-speaking vocational students. Organised by a new partnership comprised of further education colleges: Cardiff and Vale College, Coleg Gwent, Bridgend College, together with Welsh language and cultural organisations, the Urdd and Mentrau Iaith, the event followed on from St David’s Day celebrations.
Vocational students in further education colleges have a keen eye on the workplace. They learn trades and business skills that are directly applicable to the world of work. Most choose to put their qualifications to use locally, staying in their communities to work. The language and culture that they practise and value alongside their professional skills therefore have a direct impact on the nature of communities in Wales.
The event on 2 March provided an real opportunity for Welsh-speaking college students from across south east Wales to identify with a larger peer community and to reflect on the value of Welsh language skills to the workplace and in business and to encourage them to continue to use and further develop their skills.
Speaking at the event, the Mayor of Cardiff, Delme Bowen, said: “Your language is part of your identity. Enrich the world with your language and your culture. Having the Welsh language is an asset. Indeed, being multi-lingual is an asset.”
Geraint Evans ,Chair of Cardiff and Vale College who is also a successful businessman and Chair of Business in Focus, shared his experience of the direct value his Welsh language skills have brought to him in business, even in an area where Welsh is not widely spoken. His message was followed and reinforced by presentations from a range of companies in the private and public sector representing tourism, public services, childcare and a recruitment agency.
Bleddyn Lewis, 18, BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design student at Cardiff and Vale College said: “This day has broadened my vision of the Welsh language. It has made me realise that having the ability to speak Welsh gives me an advantage in the workplace in Wales.”
Rebecca Townsend-Ryan, 18, a student at Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg said: “After doing a work placement in a school, I’ve had a job offer as a Learning Support Assistant and I feel that the Welsh language played a fundamental role in this. However, I’ve learnt today that there is a better way to write a CV and promote to employers that I can speak Welsh. I feel that year eleven students would benefit highly from this experience.”
Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, concluded: “’Do the little things’ was Saint David’s message. It is so much easier to maintain and hone a skill by using it daily than it is to have to start all over again in later life if it’s left to fall into disrepair. This event reminded Wales’ future entrepreneurs and employees that, for those with a good foundation in Welsh, having learnt the language at school or at home, there is value in maintaining and developing those skills throughout a college and working career. The beneficiaries are not only the individuals but also the local community and wider Wales.”
Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.
Notes to editors:
1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 20 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk
2. Photograph: Cardiff Mayor Delme Bowen speaking at the event. Courtesy of Cardiff and Vale College.