3 May 2001

Q3 Alison Halford:

Has the Minister had any discussions with P&O Ferries following its decision to invest £17 million in the port of Mostyn? (OAQ11098)

Michael German:

I have not had direct meetings with the company, but, as you know, Rhodri Morgan discussed the investment project with P&O and the port of Mostyn directors when he visited them on 9 March, a meeting at which you were also present. I intend to meet the company in the future as the project progresses.

Alison Halford:

In the light of this wonderful investment in Delyn, what action is the Minister taking to help solve the current skills shortage? In a recent survey, Wales was first in a dissatisfaction table, with 73 per cent of employers complaining about a lack of adequately trained job seekers. Do you agree that to maximise P&O’s impact on the Delyn economy, and to up-skill our local workforce, a comprehensive investment, education and business support package should be developed? Otherwise we risk what occurred with Airbus, which had to fill its jobs from across the border. That meant 40 per cent of its workforce, or 4,800 people, taking their wealth back to England.

Michael German:

That point is well made. It is not just an issue for Delyn but for the whole of Wales that we match people’s skills in Wales to the demands that will be posed by higher added-value jobs. There is no doubt that improving our country’s economy will depend on improving the skills of our people. The new organisation, Education and Learning Wales, and the Welsh Development Agency have been in discussion in recent weeks, and the action plans from the national economic development strategy will place great emphasis on this. That work is being done. The transferral of staff to the WDA from the former training and enterprise councils will help because we have people with the right experience of enterprise. Matching that experience with the skills that ELWa is developing will lead to appropriate measures. However, it is a matter of the highest priority and I will continue to treat it as such.

Peter Rogers:

I welcome the investment in the port of Mostyn, and similarly that in Holyhead. What investment are you prepared to put into the railway system to ensure that much of the freight can be moved by rail rather than road?

Michael German:

There will be an application from the company for assistance and a freight grant. That is a matter for the Minister for Environment. My intention is to encourage this operation to expand in whatever way possible. I hope that the company will thrive and prosper, because its facilities offer a great opportunity to that part of north Wales.

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