Welsh manufacturing has the power to transform the prospects of the British economy and the lives of future generations, the Secretary of State for Wales said today as he addressed an audience of leading manufacturing companies in south Wales.
The annual Barclays and SPTS Technologies Ltd “Voice of Welsh Manufacturing” event brings business leaders from Wales’ manufacturing sector to discuss with Ministers the upcoming challenges and next steps for the sector as the UK Government continues to put manufacturing at the heart of its programme for a more prosperous future.
At the meeting at SPTS Technologies in Newport, Alun Cairns outlined how the UK Government’s Modern Industrial Strategy will help keep the UK at the forefront of crucial areas of comparative advantage, such as artificial intelligence and the automotive industry.
From compound semi-conductors in Cardiff, agri-tech in Aberystwyth, and life sciences in Wrexham, Wales is already embracing the opportunities provided by artificial intelligence and innovation to revolutionise many areas of manufacturing work.
Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said:
“Building on Wales’ strengths, we want to work closely with businesses to support and grow the UK’s manufacturing capabilities, encourage innovation and promote exports.
“That is why we are working with business to put into practice a modern Industrial Strategy for modern British manufacturing.
“From encouraging cross-border growth following the abolition of the Severn Crossing tolls, to ensuring Welsh companies get their share of funding available, this meeting provided another perfect platform for us to further strengthen our relationship with the industry in Wales.
“More importantly, it enabled me to hear what its leaders have to say to ensure that we sustain a manufacturing sector that is not only investing and exporting, but is a confident and key player in building a more prosperous future for Wales.”
The Secretary of State also outlined how the Industrial Strategy isn’t the only area in which the government and manufacturers need to work in partnership.
He discussed the importance of protecting the interests of British manufacturing at a time where Britain is seeing a new relationship with the EU and seeking to protect the Welsh steel sector amid ongoing discussions with the USA over import tariffs.
He also underlined the importance of Welsh businesses maintain their access to markets across Europe, and beyond and of ensuring that the UK continues to attract the best and brightest talent from across the world.
Alun Cairns added:
“Employment across Wales in on the rise and, based on the conversations I’ve had with people in the room today, it would rise even further if they could lay their hands on enough people with the skills they need.
“So let’s tell them how on Deeside, Toyota produce a new engine every 57 seconds. How in St Athan, we’ll see more than 7,000 Aston Martin DBX vehicles roll off the production line when fully up to speed, and how in Pontyclun, Concrete Canvas are revolutionising construction processes by manufacturing concrete on a roll.”
Simon Vittle, Head of Manufacturing for Barclays in Wales said:
“The aim of this series of executive round table events is to bring together a select group of management representatives from a range of leading regional manufacturing companies across industries, local government, ministers and business experts to discuss pressing issues facing manufacturing in Wales today.
“Skills shortages was a topic of conversation as usual, with the shift from vocational qualifications to university degrees and the misperceptions regarding the well paid and rewarding roles, engineering and manufacturing careers offer. Inspiring the next generation of designers, engineers and makers is of paramount importance, but we need to place greater emphasis on upskilling, retraining and lifelong learning.
“Against a challenging back drop, UK manufacturers are surprisingly upbeat. Output is rising, order books are strong, capital investments are on the increase and “Made in Britain” is once again seen as a badge of quality.”