Those are the words of David Roberts, chair of the North Wales Regional Skills Partnership, who was joined by guest speakers, educators, employers and business leaders at the launch of the Plan, which runs from 2019-2022.
Also in attendance at Venue Cymru in Llandudno was Welsh Government Minister for Economy and Transport Ken Skates, who agreed skills have a major part to play in the region’s growth.
“As we move forward, they will be more important than they’ve ever been,” he said.
“The resilience of the economy is reliant on the resilience of the individuals within it, so Wales needs to be at the forefront of advances in industry, particularly digital innovation, where there are many opportunities.
“Taking a regional approach will help us, and I’m delighted to see the North Wales Regional Skills Partnership has responded to the challenge. I wish you every success with the Plan and look forward to working closely with you in the years to come.”
Cllr Dyfrig Siencyn, chair of the North Wales Economic Ambition Board and leader of Gwynedd County Council, reflected on the role of skills in the North Wales Growth Deal, which recently moved forward when Heads of Terms were signed at the Wales Office in London.
“Education and skills are the fundamental basis of any economic growth,” said Cllr Siencyn.
“The Ambition Board has worked closely with our colleges and universities to develop the Growth Deal – part of the wider vision for North Wales – and Skills and Employment is one of our key programmes.
“Our aim is to continue to develop a confident and coordinated region, and this Plan will play a part in that.”
The Plan focuses on supply, demand and delivery of skills training across the six counties, with emphasis on close working with colleges, universities and industry leaders to identify and share best practice on staff development and work-based learning.
To help shape the proposals, more than 350 companies attended focus groups and responded to a consultation, giving a ‘real-world’ view of the challenges facing numerous sectors.
Other speakers on the day included Dafydd Evans, chief executive of Grwp Llandrillo Menai; Paul McDonnell, Managing Director of Ruth Lee Ltd in Corwen; Magnox chief executive Gwen Parry-Jones, and Thomas Thomas, who represented Coleg Meirion Dwyfor at WorldSkills International in Russia, and came home with a Medallion of Excellence in plumbing and heating.
Mr Roberts thanked the audience of more than 50 guests for being part of the launch and said there is a “high level of optimism” in North Wales towards economic growth, supported by the £1bn Growth Deal.
He added: “There is optimism, but we still need to improve the connection between supply and demand, and we all have a part to play in that.
“One of the core roles of the Regional Skills Partnership is to help break down silos and harness the many great initiatives already underway, as well as supporting new projects and ideas as part of this Plan.
“I hope it acts as a North Star for our vision for skills and employability in the region, and that we can move forward in partnership, reducing skills shortages, promoting a more inclusive North Wales and providing a platform for successful employment pathways and apprenticeship opportunities.”
For more information on the North Wales Skills and Employment Plan 2019-2022, visit the website: www.northwaleseab.co.uk/jobs-and-skills/regional-skills-partnership