Addressing the M4 Business Network, Economy and Infrastructure Secretary Ken Skates affirmed that Wales will continue to be open for business as the UK exits Europe.
Speaking at the inaugural breakfast event of the M4 Business Network’s 2017 calendar, Mr Skates invited the network’s 160-strong audience, which represents some of South Wales’ leading businesses, to voice their questions and opinions regarding the future of Wales’ economy and Welsh Government’s plans to support business.
The Economy and Infrastructure Secretary stated that his priority was to encourage and promote entrepreneurship in every community across Wales, asserting that Welsh Government recognises the importance of entrepreneurs to the Welsh economy.
Explaining that “encouraging a can-do culture means more home-grown businesses start up, employing more people”, Mr Skates emphasised the importance of creating apprenticeship opportunities, highlighting the role that they play in 'driving the skills levels of the population still further'.
He continued to state that it is vital that work be done to 'unlock the creativity needed in business to exploit new opportunities' and encourage the 'entrepreneurial spirit' which is key to improving employability.
Moving on to the topic of Welsh skills, the Economy Secretary spoke of the importance of developing a skilled workforce with a creative and innovative mindset with 'the will and determination to succeed'.
Mr Skates went on to say that these issues were more important than ever in light of the uncertainty that has followed the referendum decision to exit the European Union, which he believed presented both challenges and opportunities for Wales 'as a Government we cannot be consumed by negativity and pessimism, in so far as Brexit is concerned'.
While acknowledging the challenges it presented, Mr Skates asserted that Brexit would not be used as an excuse for doing anything less then the best that the Welsh Government can do. He went on to talk of the shared priorities between business and Welsh Government, and a desire to work with Welsh businesses to develop new strategies and long-term government policies that overcome electoral cycles.
Asserting that “Wales remains open for business”, the Economy Secretary detailed the work that had been done since June 2016 to promote Welsh business opportunities on an international level, to ensure that foreign investors hear that message.
Speaking of work to develop Welsh infrastructure, Mr Skates outlined the efforts to implement the Metro programme, the M4 relief road, and the importance of building a new and better rail and bus network for Wales.
Following the event, Paul Byett, chair of the M4 Business Network and managing partner of its main sponsor, UHY Hacker Young, said: “We are grateful to have had the Economy and Infrastructure Secretary join us for our first event of the year. While I know that all of our members and guests here today represent some of Wales’ strongest and most promising businesses, I’m sure everyone appreciated the opportunity to meet with Mr Skates, to gain a better understanding of Welsh Government’s work to ensure Wales is in the strongest position possible in less certain times. I think I speak for our Network in saying that we welcomed Mr Skates’ commitment to working with businesses to ensure a solid future for the Welsh economy.”
The next meeting of the M4 Business Network will take place on May 9 at the Celtic Manor Resort and with guest speaker Falklands War veteran Simon Weston.
The M4 Business Network has established itself as the premier networking organisation in south Wales, attracting members from along the M4 corridor. Current sponsors of the club include UHY Hacker Young Chartered Accountants, University of South Wales, Newport City Council, Rubin Lewis O’Brien and Johnsey Estates.
For more information about the M4 Business Network or to join call 01633 213318 or visit www.m4businessnetwork.org.