EBBW VALE is leading the way in providing local youth with key jobs for the future, Premier Mark Drakeford said during a visit to the town on Friday May 20.
Drakeford was in the historic steel mill town to open the next stage of a global cybersecurity center, ResilientWorks.
It is the latest development on the site of the former Ebbw Vale steelworks, creating a technology campus with the National Digital Exploitation Center, NDEC.
The new £7million Innovation Hub opened today is jointly funded by global technology company Thales and the Welsh Government’s Tech Valleys programme, with a research contribution from Cardiff University.
Drakeford toured the new ResilientWorks building, described as a living lab for leading tech companies to test and develop autonomous vehicles and power systems.
The initiative works alongside schools and colleges, paving the way for the next generation of talent to get started in cybersecurity.
The Prime Minister then toured the site in an autonomous vehicle before meeting students in cybersecurity training.
Addressing the Argus at today’s launch, Drakeford praised the hub for helping to promote Ebbw Vale to the world.
“It’s wonderful to hear those two things in the same sentence – Ebbw Vale and global developments – and that’s exactly what we’re seeing here,” the premier said.
“A large international company with links around the world using the center here at Ebbw Vale as one of the drivers of its own ambitions.
“This is my second visit in the past two years. Considerable effort is being made here to ensure that young people in this part of the world are equipped with the skills and understanding they will need, because these are the jobs of the future.
Asked if he could assure people that these jobs would be here to stay at Ebbw Vale, Mr Drakeford added: ‘I think that’s one of the most important messages this center sends.
“The old heavy industries had a very difficult time, but what we’re seeing in Wales today are ways in which we can reposition ourselves in a range of different things.”
ResilientWorks will expand the campus started by NDEC, a £20 million joint investment launched in 2019 by Thales, the Welsh Government and the University of South Wales.
The first business to be developed on the site of the former Ebbw Vale steelworks as part of the region’s economic regeneration plan, NDEC has won contracts for Wales from Innovate UK and the UK Government, and is working with international companies such as EDF and Williams Grand Prix Engineering, and Welsh companies including Protecht and Awen Collective.
Thales’s expanding development at Ebbw Vale directly employs 28 people to date and has created both PhDs and degree apprenticeships.
NDEC Business Manager Leanne Connor – an alumnus of the school, said: “There is no reason people in this area should not be able to access well-paying high tech jobs. The team here are concrete examples that this can be done.
“We are delivering on our commitment to the Welsh Government to work with schools and colleges to develop a talent pool for the future. Our educational action is very well received in schools and we are really starting to have an impact.
“The number of female students going into STEM subjects and considering cyber as career options is growing. Local schools are delighted that a company like Thales wants to work with them.
“We’re starting to normalize the idea among young people in this field that they can have a career in cyber.”