UNITING industry, education and innovation with communities is pivotal to closing the skills gap in North Wales.
Pryderi ap Rhisiart, Managing Director of M-SParc science park on Anglesey, made the plea during a business summit hosted by Antur Cymru Enterprise at the Quay Hotel and Spa in Deganwy.
He was joined by a panel of top speakers including Francis Johnson, founder of Parallel Care Solutions; Vicki Rushton from Gerallt Evans Metalcraft; Andrea Knox, director of business law specialists Knox Commercial Solicitors, and Carolyn Parry, President of the CDI (Careers Development Institute).
Also presenting to more than 40 attendees on the day were Lorraine Hopkins, Manager for the Leading Business Growth programmes at Bangor University Business School, and Chris Owens, Managing Director at Alpine Travel.
The event was opened by Bronwen Raine, Managing Director of Antur Cymru Enterprise, based in Newcastle Emlyn.
She revealed how the organisation has helped tens of thousands of businesspeople in Wales over the last 45 years via platforms such as Business Wales and Big Ideas Wales.
“Everyone in this room today recognises the need to prioritise growth, not only to develop a vibrant Welsh economy but also, at an individual business level, to increase the sustainability of individual businesses in current conditions,” said Bronwen.
“This has become a greater challenge in the current fiscal and economic environment so it’s essential stakeholders unite and look at how we can work together to achieve this while sharing expertise.”
The summit also featured a special video message from Minister for Economy, Vaughan Gething MS, who said: “The Welsh Government is working towards creating a stronger, fairer, and greener Welsh economy to encourage innovation among businesses right across Wales.
“Entrepreneurship and innovation are key to growing the economy of Wales; through Business Wales we look to and support our micro businesses and SMEs, particularly those that are grounded in their local communities and investing in Wales long-term.
“By putting collaboration ahead of competition we will maximise fairness for all and try to eliminate inequality at every level of our society.”
He added: “Significant economic opportunities exist, as North Wales transitions to an integrated cross-border low-carbon economy. I hope you have a successful day and much more than that I hope we will all see real success across Wales, including the growth there in North Wales.”
Reinforcing those comments, Pryderi pointed to the “ecosystem” of talent and opportunity at M-SParc and across the region.
“We need to cooperate, which is why events like this are so important,” he said.
“We have a backbone of SMEs and small businesses that contribute so much to our economy, but we need to see a greater flow of private finance and investments and R&D funding to support innovation here, and a focus on skills, which we clearly feel very strongly about.
“It is a big challenge, trying to find skilled candidates to fill some of the jobs out there in North Wales, but if we come together, we have the ingredients to do it, and when we do it will be prove to be a massive boost to our economy.”