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Thursday, April 29, 1999 Published at 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK


Plaid's vision of 'learning country'



Plaid Cymru aims to see Wales match the economic success of Ireland by creating a workforce for the future.

The party has put training at the top of its economic agenda once the new National Assembly for Wales begins.

Cynog Dafis, Plaid's rival candidate to Labour leader Alun Michael in the Mid and West Wales list seat, said he wanted to see Wales become a "learning country", by making use of European funding.

Other provisions include scrapping training councils and replacing A-Levels in Wales with a new qualification.

Such measures, said Mr Dafis, were part of Plaid's vision to put Wales on a platform to compete with other nations.

"Only by creating a society where learning is a natural part of our way of life can we rise to the standards of Europe's most successful regions," said Mr Dafis.

"A key factor in Ireland's economic success over the past few years has been the way it has been able to channel European funds to turn its workforce into one of the most skilled in Europe."

This would mean overhauling training in Wales, bringing to an end the existing Training and Enterprise Councils (TECs).

Plaid also wants to look at introducing a pilot scheme for a Welsh Baccalaureate to replace the existing A-levels taken by Sixth Formers, bringing together academic and vocational work.

The party, said Mr Dafis, also wanted to make better use of the European Structural Funds for training.

Plaid is focused on spending 40% of money from the ESF and Objective 3 on training to kickstart an economic revival in Wales.

"We want the new Wales to be a learning country that can meet the challenges of global change and that can build national self-confidence," said Mr Dafis.

"In particular, we would target disadvantaged areas and sectors of the population, with training in basic and hi-tech skills. Providing skills is the best way to attract investment to disadvantaged areas."

Attracting people who had been excluded from formal education, Mr Dafis added his party's support for community education schemes.



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