During the debate in the Senedd on workforce skills, Janet Finch-Saunders, Assembly Member for Aberconwy, and Chairman of the Cross-Party Group on Small Shops, called on the Welsh Government to establish an Institute of Technology in North Wales so to help tackle the skills shortage.
The Institute of Technology would strengthen the links between high quality teaching and business in North Wales.
The institute would be a collaboration between further education providers, universities and employers, and would specialise in delivering higher technical education with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, so to boost skills across the region.
Following the debate, Janet said:
“Skills have become our Welsh dragon’s achilles heel.
“67 per cent of senior business leaders in Wales have reported that their organisation is currently experiencing a skills shortage, and 54 per cent of employers have reported being unable to recruit enough staff with the skills they require.
“Business people from Betws y Coed to Conwy have repeatedly complained to me about their inability to find staff with the skills they need.
“I know of vacancies which are going unfiled in the tourism and social care sectors of Aberconwy, and it is a startling fact that the skills shortage is costing business in Wales approximately £155.2 million.
“Thankfully, the unemployment rate in North Wales has fallen from a high of 6.5% in 2012 to 3.9% in 2019. However, this could be lower if people were assisted to acquire more of the skills the market needs.
“Coleg Llandrillo is already on course to help. For example, their Institute of Health and Social Care is enabling students to explore all aspects of bedroom care, and thanks partly to the North Wales Growth Deal and UK Government, Llandrillo should be providing targeted skill development to accelerate the growth of our tourism and hospitality sector.
“However, more can be achieved, especially for the engineering, digital, and construction sectors.
“We need a centre of learning which is dedicated to providing the specific technical skills needs required in our area, so I have called for the creation of an Institute of Technology in North Wales.
“The UK Government has already committed to set up 12 Institutes of Technology across England, so it is time for the Welsh Government to allow us to have one here in North Wales”.