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North Wales skills plan launched to boost prosperity in North Wales

(L-R) Wynne Construction Alison Hourihane, RSP chair David Roberts, Ambition North Wales portfolio director Alwen Williams, North Wales Economic Ambition Board chair Dyfrig Siencyn, degree apprentice Molly Victoria Salter, and Airbus apprentice Rosie Boddy.

A collaborative skills proposal to improve connectivity between education provisions and businesses in the region has been backed by key employers, education bodies, and Welsh Government representatives.

With skills high on the agenda for employers, the North Wales Regional Skills Partnership (RSP) has launched its skills and employment plan for the next three years to help maximise opportunities to upskill in the region.

David Roberts, who chairs the RSP, prides the plan on ‘decluttering’ the complex employment and skills landscape by providing a framework for employers, training providers, and funders to work as a collective.

Its launch event at Venue Cymru saw more than 160 people attend, with specialist panel sessions and speakers encouraging an open dialogue between sectors.

In addition, Welsh Government economy minister Vaughan Gething endorsed the plan during a keynote address delivered remotely.

David, who also runs the North Wales branch of business advisory service The Alternative Board, said: “Sharing our vision through a collaborative event really brought the blueprint to life, and if the event is any indication of what the next three years have to offer, there’s really lots to be excited about.

“We saw a real appetite for facilitating more work experience, upskilling, and retraining, and we hope these meaningful conversations will transform into more opportunities for prosperity.

“It was fantastic to hear voices from the next generation of the workforce highlight the benefits of greater collaboration from their perspectives, which created an inspiring force in the room.”

To demonstrate the three core aspects of the plan; enabling employers, communicating how support is provided, and empowering individuals, three panel sessions took place with representatives from each division present.

On the concluding panel, current apprentices shared thoughts and answered questions, including Rosie Boddy, who is completing an Airbus apprenticeship, and additionally gave a talk on the day.

Rosie, who moved from her hometown Farnborough at 17 to North Wales for the apprenticeship, said: “I always knew I wanted to take up a career in the aviation industry, so I was overjoyed to be given the chance to join Airbus for a place on the scheme.

“Since then, the apprenticeship has led to countless opportunities to further my skills, including being able to take part in the WorldSkills UK national finals where I won a gold medal in aircraft maintenance.

“It’s so important for businesses to work closely with colleges to help show the diverse opportunities out there and represent them as viable career choices for young people.”

Another panel session brought representatives from education provisions Bangor University, Wrexham Glyndŵr University, Coleg Cambria, Coleg Llandrillo Menai, Careers Wales, and the North Wales RSP Employability Working Group, to speak on their training programmes and current links with industry.

In addition, a business-focussed panel brought together key employers Moneypenny, The VAE, M-Sparc, and Wynne Construction, to discuss best practices in developing apprentice and employee skills to strengthen its workforce.

Wynne Construction social value manager Alison Hourihane also led a talk on the opportunities for skills development in the construction industry.

Reflecting on the event, Alison said: “Working in construction, we leave a legacy for the local community so it’s incredibly important we ensure this from the outset by providing local employment and training opportunities.

“Supporting local people into construction and tapping into education is a huge part of our work and we hope in the next three years of the plan, more individuals will be aware of the opportunities and career avenues available to help build skills up in North Wales industries.”

The RSP is one of four strategic partnerships across Wales and was established in 2012 as part of the Welsh Government’s broader approach to regional economic development.

David Roberts chaired the partnership during its previous 2019-2022 skills plan, and with the RSP, he works closely with Ambition North Wales to identify regional priorities for skills investment.