THE business plan for a £30 million project to equip people with valuable work skills in South West Wales has been endorsed by Carmarthenshire Council leaders.
Members of the executive board were told the skills and talent programme for the region would provide thousands of people with skills and apprenticeships focusing on construction, energy and digital networks, among others.
The programme is one of nine city deal projects for the Swansea Bay City Region covering Carmarthenshire, Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire.
It will need to be approved by all four councils and also the Welsh and UK Governments, which will contribute £10 million of the £30 million cost.
The aim of the programme is to:
– Deliver at least 2,200 additional skills and support the development of around 14,000 people with higher level skills within 10 years
– Create at least 3,000 new apprenticeship opportunities
– Create a clear career pathway from school through further and higher education in the areas of digital networks, construction, energy, smart manufacturing, and life-science and well-being
– Deliver 20 new or updated course frameworks to ensure they meet industry training needs for the future
– Create at least 2 centres of excellence at colleges or universities within specific sectors.
Carmarthenshire Council is the lead authority on the project, and leader Emlyn Dole said a review had concluded that it was “good to go”.
Cllr Glynog Davies said it was important that young people had the best advice for choosing courses, but expressed concern that science, technology, engineering and maths courses “were not popular among everyone”.
“When looking to the future, skills in these areas will be very important,” said Cllr Davies.
The programme will be delivered in four phases, starting with an analysis of skills’ shortages.
A key aim of the £1.1 billion city deal is to create more than 9,000 skilled, well-paid jobs to help the region become more productive.
A report about the skills and talent programme said the digital sector was becoming more and more important and included posts in machine learning, robotics, forensics and and artificial intelligence.
“This is a trend that has undoubtedly been accelerated by the recent change to working practices as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” it said.
The report also said that skilled workers from South West Wales were being lured elsewhere.
“Human capital, much like financial capital, flows to areas where returns are greatest and currently the region suffers from a loss of some if its higher skilled individuals to other locations both within Wales, across the UK and internationally,” it said.
Cllr Jane Tremlett said the skills and talent programme would counteract this trend.
“This will prevent the exodus that we have experienced for far too long,” she said.