Skill Academy “crucial” in wake of Tata Steel jobs announcement, says Plaid Cymru

Port Talbot Centre of Excellence gets Senedd Member’s vote of approval. Sioned Williams MS, Plaid Cymru Member of Senedd for South Wales West has called for “urgency” in supporting initiatives that increase the skills base in the Port Talbot area.

Sioned and the JES team

Sioned Williams MS (Plaid South West Wales) pictured (centre) at the JES Skills Academy on Port Talbot Docks with JES apprentices and (from extreme left to right) Sam Owen (Project Lead), Laurence Wood (Repsar - Project Consultant), Cllr. Andrew Dacey (Plaid - Aberavon Ward) and Jake Neale (JES Academy Instructor).

One such initiative is Port Talbot based JES Group Ltd which has launched The JES Skills Academy – a Centre of Excellence for the development of Fabrication & Welding skills that aligns with industry needs, the drive to Net Zero and the opportunities presented by the Celtic Freeport. The Academy will run a full range of specialist training courses for anyone from local school pupils, apprentices right through to existing welders requiring CPD and employment seekers looking for entry pathways into the industry. The objective is to future proof the Fabrication and Welding learning process and deliver an enterprise class blended training centre with solutions that address the Fabrication and Welding industry’s skills shortage across South West Wales. Ms Williams has called for any funding available from TATA or the Transition Board to be utilised for initiatives such as The JES Skills Academy, as their offering can upskill workers who are looking to take opportunities presented by the Renewable Energy industry.

Sioned Williams MS, Plaid Cymru’s Member of Senedd South Wales West said:

“This project is innovative, ambitious, structured and meets a recognised need – namely to protect existing jobs and help create more. There is a shortage of welders across Wales, and this is especially the case in south west Wales.

“As the region reels from the devastating news from TATA Steel, the focus must be on re-training and re-skilling to ensure workers keep their jobs and transition to carbon-neutral steelmaking. We cannot hope to attract the inward investment necessary and benefit from the opportunities provided by the Renewable Energy Industry and the drive to a Net Zero economy, without a highly skilled labour force, and Skills Academies such as the one launched by the JES Group will play a crucial role.

“For that reason, any money that is available from TATA or the Transition Board that could be used to support initiatives like this, should be utilised in this way.

“The Skills Academy is sending out a clear signal to the Renewable Energy Industry that south west Wales, with Port Talbot at its centre, is the place to bring their businesses to - we are ready to accommodate you and satisfy your industrial requirements.

“My colleague Cllr. Andrew Dacey (Plaid-Aberavon Ward) and others in the Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council Rainbow Coalition, alongside NPTCBC’s Officers, have done a fine job in supporting this project through UK Shared Prosperity Funding and I share JES’s acknowledgement of how important their help has been.”

Spokesperson for JES, Mr. Sam Owen said,

“The Skills Academy was originally conceived as a means of improving thetraining that the JES Group was providing its own apprenticeship programme. We needed to ensure that our apprentices were industry ready and in a position to contribute positively to employment immediately on completion of their training. Our original aims and objectives have very quickly developed. What we have now, is a Centre of Excellence for all of South Wales.

“Based in Port Talbot, the Academy is wholly inclusive and offers easy access to hands-on training and mentoring from expert instructors. Allied to the latest digital technologies, the Academy can take anyone, from those wishing to sample or enter the industry for the first time, to those needing to hone their existing welding skills to the highest possible levels and provide each with the opportunity and the pathways to do so.

“We recently invited Sioned Williams MS and Cllr Andrew Dacey (Aberavon) to a special meeting to thank them for the tremendous support given to us in turning this project from a dream into a reality. We have been privileged on this journey to get great help and advice from NPTCBC’s Officers and the Elected Members of the County Borough’s Rainbow Coalition - each has given us a huge amount of assistance and enabling access to UK Shared Prosperity Funding. Without their help and the access provided, this unique and outstanding project would not be possible.”

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