Improving infrastructure and enhancing skills in Wales are two of the key challenges for its economy, Baroness Randerson said today in her first major speech since becoming a Wales Office minister.
In her first appearance at the House of Lords despatch box, Baroness Randerson said that revitalising the economy was not just a job for the UK Government and it needed to work closely with the Welsh Government and private sector to revitalise the Welsh economy.
But she warned that hopes and aspirations needed to be founded in reality in the recognition that the UK economy as a whole was dealing with deep-rooted problems.
She told peers: “I am pleased to be able to say that the increase in the employment rate in Wales over the last quarter was the largest of all the devolved countries and English regions and well above the increase seen across the UK as a whole.
“However, there is no room for complacency, and no-one is more alive than I to the challenges we continue to face in Wales.
“I see two of the main challenges for the economy in Wales as improving infrastructure and enhancing skills in Wales.”
Baroness Randerson pointed to the UK Government’s investment in Wales, illustrated by its commitment to electrify the South Wales Mainline and Valleys. Wales is expected to benefit directly and indirectly from almost £2bn from the programme to modernise the rail network.
She also highlighted the UK Government providing its counterpart in Cardiff Bay with almost £57m to help bring broadband to everyone and superfast speeds to 90% of homes and businesses.
She added: “In addition to the challenges we face to improve infrastructure, it is vital that we do all we can to enhance the skills of the workforce in Wales. Wales has a lot to offer but further upskilling of the workforce will not only support indigenous business but will also help Wales to attract more inward investment.
“The simple fact is that we will only deliver real economic growth for Wales if both its governments work closely together. Wales is not an island – we are very much an integral part of the United Kingdom economy.”
Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.