TO coincide with St David’s Day, Cardiff Council has published details of a new plan to offer free Welsh language courses to all its staff, covering all abilities, and the diverse range of services provided by the local authority.
The plan forms part of a new Welsh Language Skills Strategy, which aims to bring together staffing, training and recruitment procedures.
Council Leader, Cllr Huw Thomas, said:
“The ability to speak Welsh can be hugely beneficial in terms of career and employment prospects, with more and more employers in Cardiff, and across Wales, keen to recruit staff able to work in both languages. But the benefits go far beyond that – it’s a skill that also opens the door to a vibrant and thriving culture, learning a language creates a sense of wellbeing, belonging and of feeling connected.
“This St David’s Day we are re-emphasising our commitment to making the Council an increasingly bilingual workplace, and helping to increase the number of bilingual speakers in Cardiff – that is already happening, but we want to go further on our journey to becoming a truly bilingual Capital city.
“We are an organisation that values and supports the use of Welsh, both formally and socially, among our staff. We aim to foster a bilingual ethos, and a workplace, where staff feel supported to use their Welsh language skills in all contexts. Proficiency in multiple languages is an important business skill and it supports the provision of high-quality services to the people of Cardiff. Surprisingly perhaps, there are also potential health benefits – research has shown that bilingualism and multilingualism are beneficial in terms of mental health, and may delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
“We, therefore, want all our staff, wherever they work in the council, to have the opportunity to learn Welsh, not only so they’re able to offer and better facilitate access to all our services for residents, but also so that they can help their children with homework, share in the sense of community that being a Welsh speaker brings and experience the confidence and pride that can come from being able to switch comfortably from one language to another.”
A variety of options for Welsh language training will be developed in partnership with The Academy (CardiffCouncil’s in-house training platform) and the Council’s Welsh language tutor. Training providers will also include external providers such as the National
Centre for Learning Welsh.
All staff members will be offered the opportunity to participate in this free training to enable them to reach a level of proficiency equivalent to Level 1 on the ALTE Framework for language learning. Following this training, by engaging with the more advanced Welsh language training provided, or supported by the Council, members of staff may wish to continue on their journey to Level 3 and above – which is the desired level for all customer-facing posts – before moving towards becoming fully bilingual and proficient at Level 5.
The Council will also continue to utilise all available opportunities to advertise and promote itself as a bilingual employer, building on the success of its Bilingual Cardiff strategy which has seen an increase of 81.7% in the number of staff with Welsh language skills since it was first launched in 2017.
Cllr Thomas continued: “We have a unique opportunity to make the most of our continued investment in Welsh language education and as one of the city’s largest employers, to lead by example. Too often the language skills learnt in school go unused by many young people once they leave full-time education. As an employer, we can provide valuable new opportunities for our young people to use these skills in the workplace, help to realise our own vision as a council, and support the Welsh Government’s aim of a million Welsh speakers by 2050.”
“The commitments made in our new Welsh Language Skills Strategy will ensure that as an employer, all our recruitment and training procedures contribute towards that vision and journey to becoming a truly bilingual capital city.”
If approved by Cabinet, the strategy would see:
all staff provided with the opportunity to learn Welsh to Level 1 and
all recruited customer facing posts to include proficiency (Level 3 or above) in Welsh and/or community language as a desirable requirement.