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Welsh Bacc enables a time of economic pupils to thrive in and social change; The Welsh Baccalaureate is a range of qualifications which are, arguably, the most controversial in Wales. Here Caroline Morgan, Welsh Baccalaureate framework manager at the WJEC exam board, explains how it puts Wales at the forefront of skills development internationally.

| When was the Welsh Bacc launched? The Welsh Baccalaureate was introduced in 2007 after it was piloted in 2003. The revised Welsh Baccalaureate was introduced in 2015. In 2017 the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate was taken by 11,312 learners from 172 schools and colleges throughout Wales.

The National/Foundation Skills Challenge Certificate was taken by 23,443 learners from Welsh schools.

| Why was it introduced? Future generations will need to develop an array of transferable skills to ensure that the UK remains competitive in a global jobs market, according to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.

Commenting on the need for transferable skills, Andreas Schleicher, director at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, said: "We live in a fastchanging world, and producing more of the same knowledge and skills will not suffice to address the challenges of the future. Today, because of rapid economic and social change, schools have to prepare students for jobs that have not yet been created, technologies that have not yet been invented and problems that we don't yet know will arise."

To meet these needs and address concerns raised by business leaders, the Welsh Government paved the way in skills development with the introduction of the Welsh Baccalaureate, a qualification framework designed to equip Welsh learners with the necessary skills, attributes and behaviours to compete in the global jobs market.

| What is the new Welsh Baccalaureate? The new Welsh Baccalaureate introduced in 2015 consists of the National/Foundation (GCSE equivalent) which is taken by all learners aged 14-16. For learners aged 16 and over, there are three qualifications - the Foundation and National, and Advanced (A-level equivalent).

The Welsh Baccalaureate combines a Skills Challenge Certificate, together with literacy and numeracy qualifications and other supporting qualifications, to ensure the young people of Wales become well-rounded individuals.

These qualifications provide learners with a broader experience than traditional learning programmes and respond to employer calls for progression from education into the workplace.

| What is the Skills Challenge Certificate? It is a standalone qualification that forms the core of the Welsh Baccalaureate. It enables learners to develop and demonstrate an understanding of and proficiency in the seven essential and employability skills: | Literacy | Numeracy | Digital literacy | Critical thinking and problemsolving | Personal effectiveness | Creativity and innovation | Planning and organisation These skills are assessed through three "challenges" and an individual project, set in a variety of contexts. Challenge briefs have been developed in partnership with an array of organisations including Welsh Water, Fire and Rescue Service Wales, S4C and many charitable organisations.

The individual project is a piece of research that is carried out by the learner in an area relevant to their future education or career. The project can be in the form of a dissertation or, for the more creative, by producing an artefact.

Several Welsh universities have developed project proposals which many learners have chosen to follow.

| What are the benefits to the learners? The Welsh Baccalaureate enables Welsh learners to harness a range of transferable skills that will prepare them to enter an ever-evolving jobs market.

Learners completing this qualification will develop and demonstrate an understanding of and proficiency in essential and employability skills. These skills have been identified by business leaders as essential for individuals who are entering an ever-evolving and competitive jobs market. Developing these skills will stand Welsh learners in good stead.

| Some people argue that students should stick to more traditional qualifications such as A-levels and some universities do not accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as A-level equivalent in offers. What do you think about this? Most UK universities now include the Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate within their three-grade offer or as an alternative offer with reduced A-level grades.

Despite Oxford and Cambridge universities not including it in their grades requirements, they do, however, recognise that the Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will provide an applicant with the opportunity to develop research and academic skills relevant to university study.

The experiences offered through the Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate are not available through traditional A-levels.

The unique combination of A-levels and the Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate mean that Wales is a global leader in preparing young people for the future and that Welsh learners are better prepared for the challenges of higher education and work.

The Office for National Statistics described the Welsh Baccalaureate as a great opportunity to support students in the transition from the educational environment to the world of work.

The job market is entering a phase of rapid technological change and it must be recognised that young people need a different mix of skills. The Welsh Baccalaureate is preparing Welsh learners for this change.

For learners to thrive in the job market and/or progress within the world of academia, young people need a varied mix of essential skills - the Welsh Baccalaureate provides young learners with a framework to develop these skills. Wales is a global leader for skills development and the Welsh Baccalaureate enables young learners to harness a broad range of transferable skills that are attractive to both employers and higher education institutions.

Today, schools have to prepare students for jobs that have not yet been created, technologies that have not yet been invented and problems that we don't yet know will arise... Andreas Schleicher

CAPTION(S):

Porthcawl Comprehensive School Year Nine and 10 pupils gave the town's Cosy Corner a facelift as part of the community project section of the Welsh Baccalaureate

<B Queen Elizabeth High pupils with Education Secretary Kirsty Williams at the launch of the Welsh Baccalaureate Open Water Safety Challenge
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 15, 2018
Words:924
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