I am delighted to be here in north Wales.
Only last week I was hosting a delegation from the Indonesian Embassy to showcase what the region has to offer to inward investors.
One of the visits we undertook was to Airbus where the delegation was greatly impressed by their fantastic operations at Broughton.
What impresses me about Airbus is their commitment to developing their workforce – including almost 400 apprentices – which is the largest engineering apprenticeships scheme in Wales.
I encourage you all to look at their model for apprenticeships and the opportunities that you can provide to young people in Wales to create a skilled workforce for the future.
As we look to help businesses to develop apprenticeship programmes we are also investing in our infrastructure to build a stronger economy.
Last year we introduced a National Infrastructure Plan.
The National Infrastructure Plan brings together the Government’s infrastructure priorities across different sectors and identifies the top 40 projects considered crucial for economic growth.
It includes a forward-looking pipeline of investment worth over £375billion, ensuring that we are investing a greater share of our nation’s wealth in infrastructure than the whole period of the last Government.
This forward plan includes key projects in Wales.
We are investing in rolling out superfast broadband to homes and businesses across Wales.
The UK Government has announced further funds to Wales to build on this scheme, taking the total investment in Wales to £69million;
We are also investing in improving mobile broadband and telephony services across Wales.
Recognising the importance of a modern transport network, we are making the most significant investment in Wales’ rail infrastructure for decades with the electrification of the rail network in south Wales.
As the first north Wales Secretary of State for Wales for 40 years I have been clear that this is just the start of large scale rail investment in Wales.
The planned high speed network coming down the tracks to Crewe provides an exciting opportunity for the region.
I have been supporting the case for electrification of the north Wales main line, which would allow;
- More efficient connections with the high speed network and shorter journey times into Wales vital for attracting inward investment;
- even closer integration across north Wales and into major cities in England.
We must strengthen the existing economic success of north Wales to ensure it continues to expand and attract new business ventures.
Financing key infrastructure projects is of course a prominent issue.
I am pleased to welcome Louise Minford from Infrastructure UK to talk about the UK Guarantees scheme.
This is a Government initiative aimed at boosting infrastructure investment.
You may be aware that the Government has committed to working up a guarantee for Hitachi’s investment in the Wylfa Newydd power station by the end of 2016.
I believe this investment is vital for the region and presents great opportunities for local business.
The UK Guarantees Scheme aims to kick start critical infrastructure projects that may have stalled because of adverse credit conditions.
- Up to £40 billion in guarantees is available to do this.
In light of the Scheme’s extension to December 2016, Infrastructure UK is eager to encourage a wide range of projects to apply.
I hope to see the UK Guarantees Scheme utilised in many more defining projects in Wales and I encourage you all to speak to Louise about ideas that you may have.