Wales faces significant disruptions over the coming years. With fundamental change comes the risk of new inequalities but also the opportunities for far-reaching reform. While global and UK-wide trends such as Brexit and climate change may not be fully within the control of government in Wales, their effects, and who wins and who loses as a consequence, is not predetermined – they will be shaped by public policy decisions and choices here in Wales and at the UK level. At the centre of many of these policy choices will be the skills system and how it can be shaped to meet these 21st century challenges.

The Welsh government seems to be aware of how important the skills system could be over the coming years, developing a number of strategies relating to skills in recent years. To date, however, the scale of the government’s ambition with reforms has not always matched the scale of the challenge.

This report marks the second and final report of our project considering what a 21st century skills system needs to look like to meet the challenges and opportunities that Wales faces. Through desk-based research, literature and data reviews, and face-to-face research with a range of stakeholders within and around the skills system in Wales, we have developed an outline of the attributes we believe a 21st century skills system in Wales needs to display, and a series of recommendations for how Wales can get there.

We will need action beyond government alone, and we will need to reshape the economy in Wales, with employers, workers and government all pulling in the same direction. The risks of not doing so are significant, but the rewards for getting this right could be huge: meeting the challenges and opportunities facing Wales in a way that narrows inequalities and delivers a fairer and stronger economy in Wales.

You can also download a summary of the report here.