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Boost to 'made in Wales' bid

A major initiative to boost training for manufacturing in Wales was launched this week to build on the Principality's success in attracting investment.

The partnership for action is led by the Council of Welsh Training and Enterprise Councils. It aims to improve courses for 16 to 21-year-olds, boost adult provision and tackle disaffection over manufacturing jobs.

Roger Jones, chair of the council, said: "This is one area where TECs have a key role to play. Some might argue we have been a long time acting, but we now understand the problems and feel we are able to do something about them. "

He said the industry's importance in Wales was underlined by the figures - 30 per cent of the country's gross domestic product comes from manufacturing and the figure is rising. In Wales, with 7.1 per cent unemployment, 213,000 workers - one in five - are in manufacturing.

The latest manufacturing coup for Wales came with the arrival of the Korean microelectronics Company LG to Newport, which will create 6,000 jobs over three years.

He said everybody involved in Welsh education had co-operated to draw up a plan to improve manufacturing skills at post-16 level.

New courses for national vocational qualifications at level 3 will stress the manufacturing process not specific skills. Instead of taking plumbing students could enrol for a more general course on the principles of manufacturing, quality controls and operating procedures.

Mr Jones said: "With the support of the colleges we want to produce courses that will provide students with the skills manufacturing needs over the next 10 years."

He added it was important to support manufacturing industry and recognise its importance to the local economy. No jobs should be lost to Wales because of a skills shortage.

He added: "We have a window of about three years to make an impact."

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