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13 May 2024

Skills: The Key to Attracting Inward Investment to Wales

GUEST COLUMN:

Carwyn Jones
Former First Minister of Wales

During my tenure as First Minister of Wales, I had the privilege of promoting our nation on the global stage, seeking to attract inward investment that could bolster our economy and provide quality jobs for our people.

Initially, the conversations I had while abroad were dominated by discussions about cost and how economical it was to invest in Wales. However, over the last decade, there has been a perceptible shift in the nature of these discussions. Today, the first question from potential investors is often about our ability to supply the skilled workforce necessary for their businesses to thrive.

 

This shift reflects a broader trend in global business practices. As industries become more specialised and technology-driven, the availability of a skilled workforce has become a critical determinant in investment decisions. Investors are looking beyond simple cost metrics to consider whether a region can support their long-term success. This means having access to a skilled labour force equipped with the knowledge and abilities needed in increasingly complex and technology-oriented industries.

In response to this new reality, our strategy for attracting inward investment in Wales has evolved. We have focused on sectors where Wales already has a strong skills base, thereby reassuring potential investors of our capability to meet their needs. This approach not only enhances the attractiveness of Wales as an investment destination but also supports the growth and sustainability of industries where we already have a competitive advantage.

Recognising the importance of a skilled workforce, we have made significant investments in education and training programs that are aligned with the needs of high-potential industries.

This is not just about meeting the immediate needs of new businesses; it’s about anticipating the future skills that will be required and preparing our workforce accordingly. By doing so, we ensure that Wales is not only a viable location for investment today but also remains competitive in the years to come.

When we discuss Wales with the world, we are not merely offering a location for businesses; we are offering a partnership in growth and innovation. We are offering a commitment to develop and continually enhance a workforce that can propel businesses to success.

As we look to the future, it is evident that the skills of our workforce will remain at the heart of our economic strategy, ensuring that Wales is seen not just as a place to invest, but as a place to innovate and succeed.

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