Vaughan Gething MS, Minister for Economy
Wales has a proud heritage in manufacturing and today around 150,000 people work in the sector which contributes over 16% of our national output, higher than any other single sector and notably higher than the UK average.
It is vital that we have a coherent and holistic approach to how we bring stakeholders together to future-proof existing capability, take advantage of future opportunities and respond to some of our biggest long-term challenges. To that end, following extensive consultation, in February 2021, we launched our Manufacturing Action Plan: A Manufacturing Future for Wales – A Framework for Action.
Since it was launched, it has helped frame our work to decarbonise industry which notably includes establishing Net Zero Industry Wales, underpinned by our Net Zero Skills Action Plan. We have also seen our flagship Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Cymru thrive and activities like our Toyota Lean Clusters programme and WRAP Cymru help businesses to increase productivity and reduce waste by embedding lean and circular economy principles.
During the same period, the sector has faced major challenges: global competition, a technology explosion, Brexit and new trading arrangements with the European Union, the COVID-19 pandemic, the Climate emergency, the soaring cost of energy, disruption to global supply chains, raw material shortages, price increases and serious issues with labour availability. Some have called this the ‘perfect storm’.
While there are many challenges, there are also opportunities. The way we respond can give Wales a real competitive advantage. That is why it was right for us to undertake a review of the Plan.
I am now pleased to publish an updated version of our Manufacturing Plan today, which has been developed in consultation with stakeholders. This includes the insight and expertise of leading UK and Wales industry representative bodies, namely Make UK and Industry Wales, as well as our trade unions and social partners. I would like to again thank everyone for their contributions.
The new plan sets our six Strategic Objectives’ which set out our long-term approach to delivering against this vision:
- Address the climate emergency by decarbonising the manufacturing sector in Wales, underpinned by Circular Economy methodology.
- Develop the conditions to anchor key manufacturing companies in Wales including the provision of modern infrastructure and resilient supply chains.
- Identify and develop the necessary leadership and workforce skills required to achieve ‘Wales 4.0’.
- Strengthen collaboration between stakeholders to embrace technological change and deliver more commercial Innovation at pace.
- Embed ‘Fair Work’ employment principles in Wales, promoting inclusivity, security, and protecting our cultural heritage.
- Mobilise business support to equip Welsh manufacturers to meet future demand for products of strategic importance.
Our approach recognises the vital role of the manufacturing sector in delivering many of the aspirations we have for Wales as a nation. The six Strategic Objectives in the Plan will provide a consistent basis for a continuous dialogue with industry, stakeholders and our social partners to focus our collective endeavours on ‘high value’ manufacturing activities which have a positive social, economic, environmental and cultural impact on the well-being of the citizens of Wales.