As the UK government continues to put manufacturing at the heart of its programme for a more prosperous future, the annual “Voice of Welsh Manufacturing” event on 4th June brought leaders from Wales’ manufacturing sector to discuss with Ministers the upcoming challenges and next steps for the sector.
The meeting, which outlined how the UK Government’s Modern Industrial Strategy will help to keep the UK at the forefront of crucial areas of comparative advantage such as AI and the automotive industry, also looked at how manufacturing has the power to transform the prospects of the British economy, and the lives of future generations.
Alun Cairns, Secretary of State for Wales, 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 businesses to put into practice a modern Industrial Strategy for modern British manufacturing.”
He also 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.
The importance of Welsh businesses maintaining their access to markets across Europe was also underlined, and ensuring that the UK continues to attract the best and brightest talent from across the world.
He added that: “Employment across Wales is on the rise and, based on 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.”
Simon Vittle, Head of Manufacturing for Barclays in Wales, said: “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.”