About Us

Developing People: Developing Workplaces

The Wales Institute for Work-based Learning (WIWBL) was launched in May 2014 by Ken Skates AM, Deputy Minister for Skill and Technology. From September 2019 onwards, the Institute will change its name to 'Wales Academy for Professional Practice and Applied Research', also known as 'The Academy'.

The Academy provides a unique suite of programmes that supports people (and their organisations) to design their own development to suit their professional practice, their career and strategic needs and their aspirations. It offers CPD and degrees from undergraduate through to doctorate level in professional practice

We were the first in Wales to develop and deliver such an integrated bilingual professional development framework and more recently we have incorporated accreditation routes for employers’ own staff development programmes and for training providers to partner with us.

The WAPPAR team consists of faculty that have extensive experience of commercial environments as well as academia. They have a distinctive portfolio of multi-award winning employment-focused programmes that are delivered through blended learning routes as well as bespoke provision for individuals wishing to get to the next level in their career.

Our provision is not the usual off-the-shelf provision of other Universities. At WAPPAR we work with you as an individual from the start to provide the development you need to flourish in your career.

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The Academy's Blog

The Academy's team contribute to a blog on professional practice and work-based learning, which can be found here. The blog contains blogs on Recognition of Prior Learning, Mindfulness, Sustainability, Stress in the Workplace, Mentoring, Learner Journeys, Conferences attended, Professional Doctorates and much more.

  • Demand-led and quality assured learning that is customised to meet the needs of individuals and the development needs of their employers.

  • Learning that is primarily work-based, which reduces the time needed to be away from the workplace. Following induction, our learner-centred programmes can be studied at work, at home or at a place where there is internet access.

  • Negotiated, partnership-focused learning that involves the learner, employer and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. All learners complete a work-based project to gain their Professional Practice qualification.

  • Bilingual provision (Welsh and English).

  • Accreditation of prior learning is key to the programme, either for learning gained through the experience of work or through previous study.

  • A Higher Education accreditation service for appropriate in-house courses which adds value for both employers and employees.

  • A wide range of modules that may be fully funded for eligible employers in the ESF Convergence Area.  See our Projects pages for more information and contact details.


  • Part of the Successful Consortium who won a 10M ECU Horizon 2020 programme entitled FoodCloud starting in October 2019


  • First successful Coaching and Mentoring at Work conference Swansea November 27th


  • WIWBL welcome a new Head of Department, Annette Fillery-Travis.
  • WIWBL induct the 9th cohort on the Consolidation of Social Work Practice Graduate Certificate.


  • WIWBL say goodbye to two of their founding members, Dr Elizabeth Wilson and Dr Elsie Reynolds.
  • WIWBL are successful in gaining European Funding to run a new work-based learning project called GWLAD (Growing Workforces through Learning and Development.


  • The first cohort for the NHS Clinical Leadership programme successfully achieve their 60 credits.
  • Teach First learners successfully achieve in their mentoring modules.
  • Elevate Cymru and SWSW projects deliver their final courses and are proud of their excellent achievement and of exceeding targets.
  • First DProf residential is successfully delivered.
  • Research and scholarship workshops increase the engagement and output from the department.


  • Nearly 70 of the Porth Agored Consortium learners successfully achieve the Graduate Certificate in Consolidation of Social Work Practice
  • Successful development of the employer led Communicating Leadership in Health and Safety suite of modules for TATA and 3M

  • September
    We are pleased to welcome 10 delegates to the second cohort of Torfaen's Postgraduate Certificate in Leadership in Public Service.

    We are delighted to collaborate with the Faculty of Teacher Education and Teach first to launch an accredited mentoring programme for 18 teachers in schools across South Wales.

  • July
    Graduation of the first 37 Porth Agored learners to achieve their Graduate Certificate in Consolidation of Social Work Practice.

    The WIWBL team celebrated the success of the first three learners graduating with the support of the European Social Fund.

    33 senior NHS clinical leaders are registered on the Clinical Leadership programme.

    Liz Wilson, Head of WIWBL received a University Professorship in her contribution to work-based learning.

  • May
    The Wales Institute for Work-based Learning was officially launched by Ken Skates AM, Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology stating "I'm delighted that the Wales Institute for Work-based Learning will be right at the centre of this drive to up-skill the Welsh workforce".

  • April
    WIWBL award the contract to validate a Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Leadership for NHS Wales.

    We were highly commended for the prestigious Universities Association for Lifelong Learning (UALL) award for our innovative Mentoring our Workforce programme.

    Five staff from the WIWBL team gave presentations at the HEA Future Directions Conference in Aberystwyth.

    Dr Elsie Reynolds and Dr Liz Wilson present at the International Conference on Professional Doctorates at the Cardiff Millennium Centre.

  • March
    The first cohort from Tata Steel Wales have successfully completed the learning plan module through Elevate Cymru.

  • February
    Staff from WIWBL received HEA accreditation. We congratulate Andrew Edwards, Heather Fish, Martin Locock, Mair O'Connor, Nick Samuel and Rhianon Washington on achieving their HEA Fellowship and David Cheseldine in being awarded an Associate Fellow.


  • November
    WIWBL won the national Training Journal's bronze award for the Best Public Sector Programme with Torfaen County Borough Council and IF Development.

  • October
    A further 80 Social Workers across Wales attend inductions for Porth Agored.

  • September
    Finalist for Training Journal Awards: Best Public Sector Programme for work with Torfaen County Borough Council. A total of 19 delegates completed the full Postgraduate Certificate in Leadership in Public Service, two learners progressed to gain the Postgraduate Diploma, and 14 went on to achieve a full MA in Professional Practice, many with merit and distinction. This included the first two councillors to obtain formal masters qualification in Leadership in Wales.

  • July
    Graduation, including MA in Professional Practice for learners from Torfaen County Borough Council.

  • May
    The first six groups of social workers attend inductions across Wales for Porth Agored.
    The first generic Doctorate in Professional Practice (DProf) is validated in Wales.

  • March
  • Launch of the Graduate Certificate in Consolidation of Social Work Practice qualification with Porth Agored and the Care Council for Wales at the National Library of Wales in Aberystywth.

  • January
    Congratulations to Dr Rhianon Washington on achieving her Professional Doctorate in Coaching and Mentoring.
    Successful bid for funding for the ESF Safe Workforce: Sustainable Workplace project.


  • November
    Launch of the Elevate Cymru Project with Jane Davidson at the National Botanical Gardens of Wales.
    Graduate Certificate in Consolidation of Social Work Practice is validated for 12 Social Services departments across Wales (Porth Agored).

  • July

  • April
    Work with Murco on APEL for Oil Refinery Process Operators, is Highly Commended by UALL Awards Scheme 2011-12.

  • January
    Successful bid for funding for the ESF Elevate Cymru Project.


  • December
    WBL team host HEA Seminar Series 'Valuing Learners in the Workplace' at Carmarthen.

  • November
    LATERAL and Mentoring our Workforce programmes move into the Swansea area with a launch.
    Workplace Assessors modules validated in collaboration with Dyslecsia Cymru/Wales Dyslexia.

  • October
    Dr Liz Wilson is appointed Associate Professor - Work-based Learning.

  • July
    We congratulate our first graduates achieving their qualifications in Professional Practice.

  • March
    Trinity Saint David launches the LATERAL and Mentoring our workforce projects with Expert Moon in Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli.


  • July
    First accreditation of the Public Service Management Wales (now Academi Wales) Summer School.

  • June
    Successful bid for funding for the ESF LATERAL project.
    Successful bid for funding for the ESF Mentoring our Workforce project.

  • March
    Launch of the Postgraduate Certificate in Public Service with delegates from Torfaen County Borough Council, Aneurin Bevan Health Board, South Wales Police, local charities and county councillors.


  • November
    Postgraduate Certificate in Leadership in Public Service is validated for Torfaen County Borough Council.

  • July
    Andrew Edwards elected as Honorary Fellow – Trinity University College.

  • May
    Launch of Professional Practice Framework by Andrew Davies AM, Minister for Finance and Public Service Delivery.


  • December
    The Professional Practice Framework allowing accreditation of bilingual work-based learning from level 4 to full masters provision is validated.

In establishing the Wales Institute for Work-based Learning we are building on the work undertaken over the past five years in which we have shown the value of developing people by acknowledging the importance of experiential learning. There is a need to build a bridge between universities and workplaces across Wales because we believe that nothing replaces a learner’s lived experience.

On many occasions our learners begin their studies by questioning whether they have the ability to gain higher level qualifications. We are committed to being responsive to the needs of all our learners and their employers, and will work collaboratively to deliver modules that respond to these needs. If we believe that we do not currently have the modules to assist them then we will tell them, but often what is needed is a programme that opens learners’ eyes to the potential learning within their working lives and that can become, to quote one of our graduates, ‘a self-affirming process’.

Integrity with learners and employers is therefore critically important to us, whether we are dealing with the private, public or third sector, by delivering customised programmes to suit individual clients that will benefit the wider economy and Wales. By accrediting work-based learning we assist in the development of more reflective, authentic and sustainable management practices which can bring tangible benefits to the workplace.

Our aim is to transform the relationship between our Institute and employers by inviting them to contribute to the structure of the modules. As a Transformed University, dealing with diverse learners, we can facilitate access to higher level work-based learning programmes that suit most abilities and levels of professional development. In this way we can innovate by providing learning up to Professional Doctorates based around the notion of experiential learning.

Over the past five years we have worked with learners drawn from most sectors and have seen administrators, health workers, IT managers, police officers, local and central government officers and others gain higher level qualifications. Today, we are delivering programmes to groups as diverse as social workers, senior medical consultants and steelworkers.

Please do contact us on wbl@uwtsd.ac.uk if you would like to discuss work-based learning further. We look forward to hearing from you.