That is the message from Economy Minister Ken Skates as the taskforce meets today.
The taskforce was established to support workers and communities affected by the company’s decision to leave Bridgend. Progress so far includes:
- Ineos Automotive confirming they will create a new 300,000 sq ft assembly facility on the Welsh Government owned Brocastle site adjacent to Ford, potentially creating up to 500 jobs, with opportunities for further jobs in the supply chain.
- 350 Ford workers have already secured new employment or have already chosen not to continue in the workforce.
- 90 workers are interested in starting self-employment and 105 have confirmed they are not looking to re-enter the labour market following the site’s closure.
- 537 Ford workers have already attended training workshops to help prepare them for future employment opportunities. The company is also providing workers with significant financial support to access training from a wide range of external providers.
- Established support mechanisms for companies within the supply chain. Highlighting with other sectors where their purchases could be marketed especially in high value manufacturing sectors such as rail, aerospace and defence.
- Co-ordinated employment support across all relevant local and national agencies particularly financial, health, education and skills promoting coordination and bespoke packages for all those affected, with the best combination of services being available.
- Continue to work with Ford to strengthen their legacy, it has already stated that it will provide a Community Fund and the taskforce is looking to secure further support.
Today, as part of the taskforce’s work, the Minister has also announced that the Welsh Government will be investing £50,000, which will be match funded by £50,000 from the Cardiff Capital Region, for Bridgend County Borough Council to carry out feasibility studies on three projects that could help secure a prosperous future for local area.
The projects are:
- Enterprise Hub programme – to deliver enhanced business space and integrated support for start-ups and entrepreneurs with targeted investment in premises linked to key sectors and responding to market failure and local demand.
- Bridgend Town Resilience programme – to enhance the vibrancy of the town centre and increase footfall, thereby supporting existing businesses and attracting new opportunities through measures like the provision of flexible start-up and incubation space. It will also consider a future location of Bridgend College within the town centre, recognising its potential to act as a magnet and focal point for future investment.
- Porthcawl Resort Investment programme – an opportunity for Porthcawl to become a high quality signature destination within Wales, delivering a wide range of activities and facilities to attract new visitors, both at home and overseas, and provide compelling reasons to visit.
Moving into the next phase of delivery, the taskforce will be looking at the area as part of a regional approach with Bridgend at the front and centre. It will also continue to work with Ford to find and secure the best future for the immediate site.
Economy Minister Ken Skates said:
The taskforce has worked hard since it was established to deliver real results for the Ford workers, their families and the Bridgend community.
I am grateful to the chair and all members for their expertise, commitment and contributions to date. However, we know there is significant work still to do.
Whilst I obviously remain very disappointed at Ford’s decision to close the plant, I recognise the support they have given to their workforce and commitment shown to the taskforce.
I am also encouraged by the work to attract investment to Bridgend and the wider region.
The Ford site remains operational until September, and it is only then when we will begin to see the real impacts of the closure on the ground.
Investment in the area will provide opportunities for future generations, and people entering the workforce, to replace the opportunities previously offered by Ford.
Attracting a magnet company like INEOS Automotive to Bridgend for instance is a real vote of confidence in the region and its skilled workforce.
Today, I am also announcing a £50,000 investment by the Welsh Government and matched by the Cardiff City Region to look at three projects in more detail which could make a real difference to local communities.
The taskforce’s work does not stop and it will continue to work to deliver tangible and real results for the area and its people.