Life is returning to some kind of normality. Although foreign holidays still appear to be some way off, we can all look forward to the prospect of the hospitality sector reopening indoors next week and we have the election behind us with the security of a new Welsh Government.
Welsh Labour Leader and First Minister Mark Drakeford himself is on record as saying that last week’s election was an election of choice. Welsh Labour promised a plan to invest in the future. A plan to help us not only recover from Covid, but, in their view, to do something more – to build the Wales of tomorrow.
Voters have made their choice. They’ve put their trust in Welsh Labour. It’s now time to move Wales forward and unite with Boris Johnson as the Prime Minister to support “Team UK” and the UK’s recovery from the pandemic.
I say this because, irrespective of party politics, it is unity and cooperation that will enable us to build back better, in the interests of all because it is us as the people that the political parties serve.
Here at the IoD, we will continue to collaborate with both Welsh and UK Governments, lobbying on behalf of our members to shape policy and make sure that the voice of business is heard. Have no doubt, it is now time for the real work to begin.
The new Welsh Labour Government made some big commitments in their manifesto. They pledged to move the Welsh economy forward with greener homes, hospitals, schools, town centres and transport, driving new jobs in a radical transition to a zero carbon Wales. They talked of building a greener Wales with jobs fit for the future and committed to deliver 20,000 new low carbon social homes for rent.
Investment in a green and modern infrastructure is what Wales needs to thrive. We also need to see key infrastructure projects realised and a real commitment to innovation along with a radical improvement in our digital and communications infrastructure. That’s what investment in our future actually means.
Yes, the new Wales Transport Strategy will help to develop a high quality, sustainable and affordable public transport system but there are plenty of other key sectors that need support if we are going to achieve long-term economic prosperity.
From major renewable energy projects to investment in our town centres, our new Welsh Government has a pretty big to-do list and the work can’t start soon enough. Our young people are in desperate need of help, there are 125,000 apprenticeships to be created during the next Senedd term and Regional Skills Partnerships need to be strengthened to ensure supply meets the changing economic needs of Wales.
We’re told that we can look forward to our new Government working with employers and unions to improve workers’ rights, driving up the quality of jobs and public services, and strengthening the economy. We can also expect to see the £500m Wales Flexible Investment Fund being used to support economic recovery and an expansion of the Development Bank of Wales’ patient capital funds to provide long-term lending to small and medium sized enterprises, entrepreneurs and start-ups. That has to be welcome.
Now is our opportunity to build back better and shape our future. Building the Wales of tomorrow means delivering on the vision of a stronger, greener and fairer Wales. That’s what we all want to see.