First Minsiter Mark Drakeford has announced that Efa Gruffudd Jones is the new Welsh Language Commissioner. She will take up the position in January 2023, taking over the role from the late Aled Roberts.
For the last 18 years Ms Jones has been the former chief executive of the youth movement Urdd Gobaith Cymru and currently stands as the chief executive of Y Ganolfan Dysgu Cymraeg Cenedlaethol (the National Centre for Learning Welsh). In her new role, the Commissioner will help increase the provision of services in Welsh and the use of the language, as well as upholding the rights of Welsh speakers.
Ms Jones became the favourite out of nine candidates. In a pre-appointment hearing before the Senedd Culture Committee last Thursday, Efa Gruffudd Jones shared her aims if she were appointed as commissioner.
She said that her main concern is to increase the use of the language. During the hearing, she also said that the census of 2021 would "drive some of those priorities". The census in 2011 showed that there had been a decrease in Welsh-language speakers with the number dropping from 582,000 in 2001 to 562,000 despite the population increasing in Wales. You can read more about the pre-appointment hearing here.
In response to Ms Jones becoming the favoured candidate, Welsh language pressure group Cymdeithas yr Iaith said she had a "great deal of work to do" to ensure that standards were imposed on more organisations. An independent selection panel recommended that Efa had the skills, experiences, and credibility to be appointed Welsh Language Commissioner. This view was endorsed by the Senedd’s Culture, Communications, Welsh language, Sport and International Relations Committee.
First Minister Mark Drakeford congratulated Ms Jones on her appointment. In a statement he said: "The language has been central to Efa’s career – both as chief executive of the National Centre for Learning Welsh and as chief executive of the Urdd. She comes to the post with years of experience of working for the benefit of the Welsh language and of working with Welsh speakers and learners across Wales."
Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles said: "I am delighted to welcome Efa to her new role as Welsh Language Commissioner. We have ambitious aims to increase not only the number of Welsh speakers but also the everyday use of Welsh. The Commissioner’s role in working to increase the use of Welsh and Welsh language services is an important part of us achieving this target, and I look forward to working closely with Efa on this.”
Following her appointment, Efa Gruffudd Jones said: "It will be a privilege to be the Welsh Language Commissioner, and an honour to follow in Aled Roberts’ footsteps. I want to see a Wales where people can enjoy using Welsh every day. I look forward to doing all I can to ensure that the Welsh language, our national treasure, belongs to all."
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