Increasing provision for apprentices in the construction industry is vital for the local economy here in Wales, according to Plaid Cymru’s new shadow skills minister.
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, made his comments during a visit to see how a new school at Llandudno Junction was rapidly taking shape with the help of construction apprentices.
Ysgol Awel y Mynydd at Llandudno Junction is being built by local firm Read Construction who are helping to train apprentices as quantity surveyors and bricklayers.
Mr Gruffudd, Plaid Cymru’s shadow skills minister, said: “It’s important that school leavers are made aware of the opportunities in the construction industry and it’s heartening that local firms like Read and the Construction Industry Training Board – CITB – are working in that direction. We as a party are committed to supporting investment in public infrastructure projects such as improved schools, public transport and tidal lagoons in Wales, which will need skilled construction workers in years to come. Even a relatively small site like this has a wide variety of positions for apprentices to learn their trade as well as studying part time in local colleges and universities to improve their skills. From talking to site workers, it’s clear that combining academic studies with hands-on experience seems to work best for them.”
The new £9m school replaces Ysgol Maelgwn and Ysgol Nant y Coed in the area and is expected to be completed next May with the first intake in September 2017. The school will provide for 432 pupils dual stream and a 60-strong nursery.
He also praised the level of local spending in the construction project: “Public procurement is hugely important to the Welsh economy with about £2 billion being spent each year by local authorities, health boards and Welsh Government on tenders. Plaid Cymru is keen to see more of that ‘Welsh pound’ retained within Wales so that we boost local firms and local jobs without spending an extra penny. At present just over a half remains in Wales so that’s why it’s great to hear that 81% of the spend in terms of supply chain has been within Wales on Awel y Mynydd. If every public tender had that level of local spend, there would be thousands of extra jobs created in Wales at no extra cost.”
Celia Williams, CITB Partnerships Manager, said: “CITB Wales is really pleased to be working with Read Construction on this exciting project, part of the Welsh Government 21st Century Schools Programme.
“We have worked closely with Read Construction for many years and value their contribution to apprenticeships and developing skills. It was a pleasure introducing Llyr to apprentices working on the site.”