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ICE discusses engineering skills shortage with Welsh Secretary of State

24 May 2024

ICE Wales Cymru met with the Rt Hon David TC Davies MP to talk about the Freeport Programme.

ICE discusses engineering skills shortage with Welsh Secretary of State
The Rt Hon David T C Davies MP, Secretary of State for Wales. Image credit: UK Parliament (licensed under CC BY 3.0 DEED)

How to boost Wales’ economic growth was the subject of discussion at a meeting between the ICE and the Welsh Secretary of State, David TC Davies MP.

Representatives from ICE Wales Cymru and associated organisations got together with Davies to talk about the connection between infrastructure and Wales’ economy and wellbeing.

In recent years, the civil engineering industry in Wales has lost valuable skilled workers who've left to look for work across the UK and overseas.

The meeting highlighted the situation and focused on the Freeport Programme, designed by the Welsh and UK governments.

The model aims to boost economic regeneration in Wales, providing high-skilled job opportunities and attracting global trade and investment.

Freeports, according to the UK government, are “special areas that have been created to boost investment in parts of a country that have historically missed out.”

The Welsh freeports include Anglesey in the north and Milford Haven Port Talbot in the south-west.


Sustainability, as the Secretary of State made clear at the meeting, is key.

A Welsh freeport must operate within the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and the Welsh government’s net zero commitments.

The plans focus on low carbon technologies that support the faster reduction of carbon emissions, such as:

  • floating offshore wind (FLOW)
  • hydrogen
  • carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS)
  • biofuels

Skills base

While the creation of the freeports in Wales is a positive move, the need to maintain and improve the nation’s skill base was also seen as a priority by all delegates.

Drawing more young people into the industry and equipping them with the necessary skills is vital, and with the lead time of three years to achieve a degree, action needs to be taken immediately.

Keith Jones, regional director ICE Wales Cymru, said universities and colleges need to be “one step ahead”.

“ICE Wales Cymru has therefore been working with associates and Wrexham University to introduce the first civil engineering apprentice degree in Wales which will launch in July.

“We are confident that with government, industry and education working together, we can boost the economy and wellbeing of our country.”

Find out more about the Freeport Programme

  • Belinda Thomas, communications lead at ICE Wales Cymru