Welsh Language Commissioner (Wales)
About the Member
Originally from Morriston, near Swansea, Efa Gruffudd Jones received her secondary education at Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera, before going to Aberystwyth University to study in the Welsh Department.
She has followed a career that has combined her interest in the arts, and in the Welsh language. She worked for the Welsh Language Board and the Arts Council of Wales before being appointed Chief Executive of Urdd Gobaith Cymru, Wales's largest youth organisation, in 2004.
In 2016, she was appointed Chief Executive of the National Centre for Learning Welsh which is the body funded by the Welsh Government to provide strategic guidance in the field of Welsh language teaching for adults in Wales. During her time there, the Centre developed a new curriculum and resources, with an emphasis on digital resources, and led on the establishment of innovative projects including 'Work Welsh.'
Until recently Efa was Chair of the Board of Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru. She was also Vice-Chair of CWVYS, a trustee of the WCVA, and a member of the Welsh Language Partnership Council.
In her position as Welsh Language Commissioner, Efa wants to ensure that the Commissioner's powers are used to their full potential, to increase the use that is made of the language, and to ensure that the Commissioner plays a key role in the efforts to secure a prosperous future for the Welsh language.
Efa started as Welsh Language Commissioner in January 2023.
About the Member's Office
The principal aim of the Welsh Language Commissioner, an independent body created in accordance with the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011, is to promote and facilitate the use of the Welsh Language. This entails raising awareness of the official status of the Welsh language in Wales and imposing standards on organisations. This, in turn, will lead to the establishment of rights for Welsh speakers.
Two principles underpin the work:
- In Wales, the Welsh language should be treated no less favourably than the English language
- Persons in Wales should be able to live their lives through the medium of Welsh if they choose to do so.
The office of Commissioner is a full-time post for a period of seven years.
The Commissioner works to increase the use of the Welsh in terms of service provision and opportunities for people to use the Welsh language.
In working towards achieving her long term vision, the Commissioner has identified 5 strategic objectives:
- Influencing the consideration given to the Welsh language in policy developments
- Ensuring justice for Welsh language users
- Imposing statutory duties and regulating them
- Encouraging, promoting and facilitating the use of the Welsh language on a voluntary basis
- Operating and communicating appropriately and effectively
Key Information on the Language Situation in this Country/Region
Official status was given to the Welsh Language through the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011. Even though English is the language most widely spoken in Wales, only the Welsh language has official status confirmed in legislation.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, a constant decline has been seen in the percentage of the population of Wales who speak Welsh. At the turn of the century, 49.9% spoke Welsh, but by 1961 this had halved to 26%.
Over the next decades, a further drop in the numbers of Welsh speakers was seen, but in 2001, there was an increase of 2.1% from 18.7% in 1991 to 20.8% in 2001.
By 2011, a decline was seen in the percentage who could speak Welsh, from 20.8% in 2001 to 19% in 2011. This was a fall in the number of Welsh speakers from 582,000 in 2001 to 562,000 in 2011. This is against a backdrop of an increase in population of Wales, with a usual domicile population of 3.1 million in 2011 – an increase of 5% since 2001.
Despite the reduction in the number in Wales who can speak Welsh of the past decade, there are some trends of growth to be seen as well, with a national increase in the percentage of children 3 to 4 years old and 5 to 9 years old who can speak Welsh.
In 2022, the Commissioner published its second 5-year report on the situation of the Welsh language Click here to read the Report.