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Commissioner to focus on bridging education and employment

At the National Eisteddfod on 5 August, new Welsh Language Commissioner outlined his vision for the role and said that his main focus will be to bridge the gap between education and employment opportunities.
Aled Roberts started as Welsh Language Commissioner on 1 April, 2019. During his first three months, he went on a tour of Wales, meeting with more than 500 people, and learning about the position of the language in different areas and communities.
Aled Roberts said:
"Coming from north east Wales, I have a thorough understanding of how the Welsh language fares in my home patch, but it was important for me to have a clear and honest picture of the situation across Wales.
"I also want my future plans to be based on the matters which are most relevant to people's lives. There is a tendency to focus excessively on status, statistics and the number of speakers. Doing so risks us ending up in a similar situation to Ireland, where 1.76 million people can speak Irish, but less than 0.5% speak it every day. I want us to focus on plans which will lead to increasing the daily use of the Welsh language.
"Certainly, there are many things we can celebrate about the language. During my visits, I met with hundreds of people of all ages, in all parts of Wales, who volunteer time and energy to hold community based activities in Welsh. There are positive attitudes and goodwill towards the language by Welsh speakers and non-Welsh speakers alike.
"But I also came across a range of challenges facing the language. As we know, education is key to create Welsh speakers and immersion education is very successful in creating fluent Welsh speakers. However, there is a real shortage of Welsh speaking teachers in the education sector, and immersion education is not planned strategically on a national level. I heard of situations where the closure of rural schools has led to a reduction in the use of Welsh in communities."
In his first speech, the Commissioner went on to talk about the need to bridge between education and work. On one hand, businesses and public organisations are having difficulties recruiting Welsh speakers, but on the other hand, young people leave schools fluent in Welsh, but then lose their language skills as they have no use for it.
Aled Roberts said:
"There is truth in the phrase ‘together stronger’, and I will prioritise establishing partnerships with organisations and societies, and work together to reach the goal.
"As an office, we will channel our efforts to increase the opportunities to use the language in an employment context. We will work with businesses, charities and organisations to ensure that Welsh speakers who leave the education system, and people who learn the language, are able to use their bilingual skills.
"Through the Welsh language standards, public organisations have a duty to consider the impact of their decisions on the Welsh language. Some decisions may have a significant impact on the language – for example planning permissions, school reorganisation and funding decisions. As an office, we will focus on ensuring that these duties are implemented to their full potential and that decisions lead to strengthening the position of the language.
"We will use every opportunity to promote the Welsh language – in the workplace, with organisations, with businesses and charities and with policy makers. We will celebrate the value of the language, and the rights to use them."

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