Earlier today, Iestyn Davies, Chief Executive of ColegauCymru joined a panel discussion on partnership ‘Together Stronger’ on the EISTEDDFOD Maes. Organised by the Welsh Language Commissioner, with leaders from leading organisations in Wales, the discussion focused on how to increase the number of Welsh speakers. Chaired by Betsan Powys it was an opportunity for leaders to discuss collaboration in order to work collectively towards achieving the million Welsh speaker target by 2050. Also invited to join ColegauCymru were leaders from the National Centre for Learning Welsh, the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol and Mudiad Meithrin.
“In an annual statistics survey in Wales, 68% of those between the age of 12-15 years reported being able to speak Welsh in 2018.”
With the above statistic in mind Iestyn added “This statistic is a large proportion of young people – a number of these, if not all are prospective college learners around Wales. The root of our intentions is to be able to meet these learners ' linguistic demand, to provide Welsh/bilingual study opportunities and daily in college to use their Welsh. Our learners are a key audience to win over in order to reach the million speakers by 2050”.
Our priorities as a further education sector are:
It will continue to be essential for us to work with the Coleg Cymraeg Gymraeg to encourage school students not only to continue their higher education studies through the medium of Welsh, but to choose to continue in Welsh if they choose to study at a further education college or start an Apprenticeship.
An important step in reaching the million speakers is to identify the gaps in staff who can’t speak Welsh. We are already active in this area through the Work Welsh project. ColegauCymru is leading on the Welsh language project work in the further education sector funded and supported by the Welsh Government's National Centre for Learning Welsh. This is a good example of partnership with the Coleg, having partnered on this project for almost three years.
As the number of lecturers using Welsh in their daily work expands, the expertise of initiatives such as Sgiliaith on bilingual learning methodology will be increasingly important in ensuring that our staff are equipped with the right skills.
With ColegauCymru's new role and responsibility extended to cover apprenticeships, we are enthusiastic to encourage linguistic continuity, as well as ensuring that there is an opportunity for learners to continue to develop their Welsh language and bilingual skills. There are a number of exciting joint developments ensuring we are all working towards achieving the same goal. We are pleased to hear that the Cymraeg Gwaith project will now be extended to the work based learning and apprenticeship settings to promote access to language opportunities, and colleges are looking forward to working with the partners on this.
We also welcome the new Coleg Cymraeg grants such as the post-16 development Grant in encouraging increased Welsh-medium and bilingual provision in the sector.
There is an exciting year ahead and we are looking forward in partnership and reporting back on our achievements in the Tregaron Eisteddfod next year.