Training providers have collaborated with other organisations to hold a successful event to raise awareness of apprenticeships in Gypsy Roma and Traveller communities in Newport.

‘The Future is in our Hands’ apprenticeships career fair was organised by the National Training Federation for Wales (NTFW), the Romani Cultural and Arts Company (RCAC) and Maindee Primary School, which hosted the event.

ACT Training, ITEC Skills and Employment, ISA Training, Careers Wales, Inspiring Skills and Excellence in Wales (ISEiW) and several Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) also attended the fair, which coincided with Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month.

Members of the NTfW are focused on achieving a goal, set out in the Welsh Government’s Anti-Racist Wales Action Plan, to increase the number of people from ethnic minority backgrounds starting and completing apprenticeships.

The Welsh Government wants to see evidence that more people from ethnic minority backgrounds have started an apprenticeship by December 2022 and that the increase is maintained in the future.

The NTfW is a federation of more than 70 quality assured work-based learning providers across Wales.

The Newport event included several of ISEiW’s Have a Go activities, such as catering, hairdressing, beauty, IT, Automotive CAN, virtual welding and construction, demonstrating to young people and their parents the different apprenticeship paths available to them and how they can earn while they learn.

Apprenticeships, career development and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses were all promoted to young people and parents who explored various vocational skills which could lead to a career pathway.

Deputy Leader of Newport City Council, Cllr Deb Davies, attended and had a go at  several activities.

Humie Webbe, the NTfW’s strategic equality and diversity lead, said the fair was an ideal opportunity to work with the other partners to re-engage with Gypsy Roma Traveller communities to raise awareness of apprenticeships and the support available to learners.

“Seeing the apprenticeship providers, Careers Wales and other stall holders support the event and positively engage with the Gypsy Roma communities was heartening,” she added.

“It generated requests to hold similar events in other schools, proving how effective and needed they are to improve access to apprenticeships and raise aspirations.”

Viera Matysakova, a Romani Cultural and Arts Company project officer, said: “Today, more than ever, communities are under lots of pressure, often struggling to see their purpose. It is crucial that we empower and inspire our young adults who are the drivers of change.

“I strongly believe that bringing service providers closer to the community  through bespoke events like this can help to do this. It provides opportunities for service providers to meet the community in a familiar, safe and culturally sensitive  environment.

“Involving parents, siblings, extended families and the local community helps to create and extend the support network and starts to gradually remove the barriers they are facing.

“I would like to thank everyone who got involved in such a successful event. I hope that events like this will happen regularly in the future.”

Paul Evans, ISEiW’s project director, said: “The ISEiW team believe initiatives such as this are incredibly important to ensure we inspire learners from all backgrounds, and give everyone the opportunity to get involved.

“The event saw us engage a new wave of learners by utilising the Have A Go equipment, and hopefully have encouraged them to consider their own future career paths whilst showcasing how exciting vocational learning can be.”

Picture caption:

At the apprenticeships career fair are (from left) Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales project director Paul Evans,  Newport City Council’s deputy leader Cllr Deb Davies, NTfW’s strategic equality and diversity lead Humie Webbe, Maindee Primary School’s equity lead Martine Smith and and Viera Matysakova from Romani Cultural and Arts Company.