A new Taskforce to look at how investment in the Valleys is delivered in a joined up and strategic way met for the first time yesterday.
Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language Alun Davies, Economy Secretary Ken Skates and Minister for Skills Julie James met the new external members of the Ministerial Taskforce for the South Wales Valleys.
The Taskforce, chaired by Alun Davies, convened in Rhondda Heritage Park to discuss its priorities for the next five years as well as embarking on its first public engagement at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Llwynypia campus.
There they met staff, students, apprentices and employers from the area to learn more about the important role institutions like this can play to improve the skills and increase employability of the local workforce.
The external members of the Taskforce are:
- Ann Beynon, Chair of the Cardiff City Region Board
- Andrew Diplock, Director of Strategy and Governance, Inprova Energy
- Judith Evans, Principal, Coleg Y Cymoedd
- Dr Chris Jones, Chair of the Cwm Taf University Health Board
- Martin Mansfield, General Secretary, TUC
- Cllr Andrew Morgan, Council Leader, Rhondda Cynon Taf
- Professor Brian Morgan, Cardiff University.
Alun Davies said,
“I am extremely grateful to the external members of the Taskforce for agreeing to join us in this important task. They have been recruited not only for their expertise, but also because they live or work in the Valleys ensuring they understand the culture and values of the area and the issues people in these communities face.
“Increasing employability, improving skills and supporting people into employment can play a fundamental role in supporting low income households and workless households in Valley communities. It is vital that the skills of local people match those needed by local businesses and investors.
“Institutions such as Coleg y Cymoedd play a fundamental role in delivering on these goals which is why I invited Principal Judith Evans to be a member of the Taskforce. Speaking with Judith, as well as learners and employers at the Coleg has given us a great deal to consider as we align our priorities for the future.”
Ken Skates said,
“Although we have made important progress in Wales to reduce unemployment and the number of people living in workless households in Wales, parts of the Valleys continue to have high levels of economic inactivity and unemployment. This must change.
“I am especially pleased to be involved as the Taskforce will work closely with both the Cardiff Capital City Region and Swansea Bay City Region programmes and seek to harness the potential of new initiatives such as the Metro and the Valleys’ unique and diverse landscape as a tourism destination.”
Julie James said,
“A focus on increasing skills and moving people on in work is critical to generating the high wage, high skill economy we want in Wales. If people have good employability skills, their chances of minimising periods of unemployment and sustaining employment are improved.
“The Taskforce has an exciting and experienced membership, and collectively there is a great deal of optimism about what can be achieved.”
A range of experts, including representatives from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the What Works Centre for Wellbeing and the Bevan Foundation, were also invited to attend the first meeting and provided evidence to inform the development of Taskforce priorities.
The Taskforce will learn from previous regeneration programmes in Wales, and further afield, to develop a fresh approach which is more co-ordinated and targeted to the needs of these communities.