POLICE forces in Wales are unable to access dedicated financial support for hiring apprenticeships, despite themselves contributing £2 million a year to the fund, a report has warned.

All employers are required to pay into the apprenticeship levy, which was introduced in 2015, which is then used by the Welsh Government to support apprenticeships.

But now a report by the Welsh Assembly's Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee has said, as policing is not devolved to Wales, but education is, neither the UK nor the Welsh Governments make this funding available to Welsh police forces.

English forces can access funding of £24,000 per trainee officer over three-year police apprenticeships. But Welsh forces are required to fund the £25.8 million equivalent themselves.

The committee is calling on the Welsh Government and the Home Office to work together to address the problem.

Chairman Russell George said: “Apprenticeships are a valuable way for people to get on-the-job training in professional environments and learn valuable skills.

“They are an important and effective way to change the lives of individuals and grow Welsh businesses and the wider economy.

“Although we support apprenticeships, we believe that the apprenticeship levy has created cracks in the system. In particular the situation in Welsh police forces is a concern and we urge the Welsh Government and the Home Office to address that issue as a matter of urgency.

“There are also still questions around communication and engagement with employers of all sizes, the portability and relevance of qualifications and the level to which all employers in Wales feel supported to develop and grow new staff.

“We recognise that the situation is clearly still developing, but we will remain vigilant to ensure these opportunities are available as widely as possible for as many people as possible.”

In June it was revealed £2.8 million allocated to Wales' four police forces, including around £500,000 for Gwent Police, from the levy had not been handed over. Gwent's police and crime commissioner Jeff Cuthbert has written to the Home Office asking them to resolve the issue.

Speaking at a meeting of the Gwent Police and Crime Panel he said: “We don’t care where it (the money) is as long as we’ve got it.

“It’s got to be somewhere. We just want access to it so we can do what we are meant to do with it – train our officers and get the best recruits we can.”

The report has been sent to the Welsh Government to respond.