Robert Smith, Robat Powell, Jane Nicholas, Nia Seaton
01 August 2006
The voluntary sector plays an important role within education and training in Wales, where its distinctive approach and relationship with individuals are key features of the way in which it works.
This report examines the type of work currently being undertaken by the voluntary sector in Wales, both in order to meet its own diverse education and training needs and also as a provider of formal, informal, and non-formal opportunities to people of all ages. It considers the nature of the challenges faced by the sector and offers key stakeholders' perspectives on reforms which they believe would address those issues.
- The voluntary sector has unique strengths, especially its moral ethos and capacity to contact and work with hard-to-reach groups. The work of the sector with particular groups and individuals often leads to considerable financial savings in later years in areas such as social services, health and crime prevention.
- A strength of the sector is its flexibility and its capacity to react quickly to needs. However, because of the ad hoc nature of much of the sector and frequent duplication of provision, a greater strategic overview and organisation, possibly through the development of voluntary sector learning fora, would be beneficial.
- A funding mechanism is needed to support non-accredited learning, which is the main characteristic of the voluntary sector. A dedicated funding stream for community learning should be established which could draw money from Welsh Assembly Government departments outside the Department for Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills Wales (DELLS). The Welsh Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) should have a coordinating role in the distribution of funding for voluntary sector learning. Future funding mechanisms should contain a weighting for producing Welsh-medium materials to help meet that need.