Welsh government unveils refreshed Manufacturing Action Plan at AMRC Cymru

03 May 2023

AMRC Cymru played host to Economy Minister for Wales, Vaughan Gething for the launch of a refreshed Manufacturing Action Plan for Wales to embrace the fourth industrial revolution and support transformation of the manufacturing sector.

The plan will support Wales’ manufacturing sector through a ‘perfect storm’ caused by a turbulent global economy, labour shortages, energy price rises and supply chain difficulties to help ensure Wales remains a leading manufacturing nation with a more prosperous, equal and greener economy.

Launching the refreshed plan during a visit to the University of Sheffield AMRC Cymru in Broughton, North Wales, Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said the Welsh Government’s refreshed Manufacturing Action Plan is designed to ensure Welsh industry is well placed to embrace and benefit from these challenges, including the technological change brought about by the fourth industrial revolution.

The refreshed plan: A manufacturing future for Wales: our journey to Wales 4.0 focuses on ensuring Wales remains a leading manufacturing nation and highlights six key priorities, including:

  • Addressing the climate emergency by decarbonising the manufacturing sector in Wales, underpinned by Circular Economy methodology.
  • Develop the conditions to anchor key manufacturing companies in Wales, including the provision of modern infrastructure and resilient supply chains. 
  • Identify and develop the necessary leadership and workforce skills required to achieve ‘Wales 4.0’.
  • Strengthen collaboration between stakeholders to embrace technological change and deliver more commercial innovation at pace.
  • Embed ‘Fair Work’ employment principles in Wales, promoting inclusivity, security, and protecting our cultural heritage.
  • Mobilising business support to equip Welsh manufacturers to meet future demand for products of strategic importance.

Vaughan Gething MS, Minister for Economy, Welsh Government, said: “Wales has a rich heritage in manufacturing and can proudly claim to be the world’s first ‘industrial nation’. Wales was right at the heart of the first industrial revolution, a centre of global export, and leading the way in the development of mechanical production and steam power.

“Manufacturing is as important to Wales today as it has ever been and remains woven into the fabric of our national identity. We have a unique responsibility to protect this vital sector and we must work collaboratively with industry and our social partners to ensure it continues to thrive long into the future.

“Our commitment to supporting our manufacturing sector remains unwavering. That is why it was right for us to undertake a review of the MAP to ensure we continue to make the most of our collective resources to respond to areas of greatest need. The refreshed action plan I’m launching today will help future-proof existing capability, take advantage of future opportunities and respond to some of our biggest long-term challenges.

“While the sector faces significant challenges, they also provide opportunities. The way we address and overcome these challenges together can give Wales a real competitive advantage. I’m confident this will help ensure Wales remains a world-leading manufacturing nation.”

AMRC Cymru, which is part of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and a member of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult, turns world-leading research into practical improvements for industry, helping to boost productivity, sharpen their competitive edge and save time, money and energy. 

Steve Foxley, chief executive officer at the University of Sheffield AMRC, said: “We’re extremely proud for the opportunity to welcome the Welsh Government as they unveiled the refreshed Manufacturing Action Plan (MAP) at AMRC Cymru. Driving collaboration and innovation is a key objective of the plan that will help ensure that Wales is ready for Industry 4.0 and continues to be a leading manufacturing nation with a stronger, fairer, greener economy. 

“At the AMRC, our mission is to transform lives through innovation. We are the model of collaboration, experimentation and kicking down the doors of traditional thinking. With the UK VentilatorChallenge during the pandemic, we set a benchmark for collaboration and innovation. We showed what a successful collaboration looks like and what it can achieve. 

“Having seen a glimpse of the untapped potential of UK manufacturing, we’re confident that with the launch of the refreshed MAP we can do it again to address challenges and achieve goals of a low carbon future through net zero and sustainable manufacturing.”

Vaughan Getthing, Economy Minister for Wales also talked about why AMRC Cymru was the perfect venue for the launch of the Manufacturing Action Plan. Watch the video here.

Katherine Bennett, CEO of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, which works to accelerate new concepts in manufacturing to commercial reality, said: “Manufacturing is a key component of a successful Welsh economy. The Manufacturing Action Plan published today shows the Welsh Government’s commitment to creating an environment in which the sector can embrace the benefits and opportunities created by new technologies. The High Value Manufacturing Catapult looks forward to working with companies across Wales to help them innovate and grow.”

Make UK membership director for Wales, Janis Richards, said: “It is vital for growth in the Welsh economy that there is a strong plan for industry which builds confidence and establishes a clear ambition - Make UK wholeheartedly welcomes this publication. In particular, the Welsh Government should be applauded for consulting so extensively with Make UK members, ensuring that this plan focuses on the real issues that matter to them most.

The Welsh Government's initial Manufacturing Action Plan (MAP), launched in February 2021, set out the steps needed to develop a resilient, high value manufacturing sector with a highly skilled and flexible workforce able to deliver the products, services and technologies necessary for the future Welsh economy. The plan is a key part of the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience and Reconstruction Mission, which sets out how the Welsh Government is rebuilding the Welsh economy, so it is more prosperous, equal and greener.

Since then, the manufacturing sector has and continues to face a 'perfect storm' as a result of a number of major challenges, including global competition, a technology explosion, Brexit and new trading arrangements with the European Union, the COVID-19 pandemic, a climate emergency, the soaring cost of energy, delays caused by shipping problems which have disrupted global supply chains, raw material shortages, price increases and serious issues with labour availability.

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