With Ford company’s new production of eco-engines, a £24 million investment supported by the Welsh government at Bridgend plant will safeguard more than 2000 jobs.
It is estimated to create high quality production lines and more jobs in Wales. Employment at Bridgend will rise to 2,300 this year, the most in its 33-year history.
Economy Minister Edwina Hart said in a public statement: “We worked closely with Ford and I am pleased to confirm a support package covering business finance, training and infrastructure works towards this exciting program.
“Ford has invested a total of £1.8billion in its Bridgend plant since it opened in 1980, securing new lines and products that have ensured the plant’s on-going success and sustainability. This latest investment is a strong endorsement of the calibre of the highly skilled workforce and their productivity.”
Dr Paul Nieuwenhuis in Cardiff University told The Archer: “It is a good idea of great benefit to the Welsh economy and the Welsh automotive supply industry, which is the largest manufacturing sector in Wales. It also further boosts Wales as a base for engine manufacture, such as Toyota engine plant in North Wales.”
Plaid Cymru’s Economy spokesperson Alun Ffred Jones commented over the investment: “This investment by Ford is good news for the workers at Ford and for the south Wales economy. Wales is a good place for international businesses like Ford – we have a highly skilled workforce, good transport links, and we are close to the European market – and I’m glad that Ford values this.”
Emma Watkins, director of CBI Wales, also addressed her optimism towards the cooperation: “This is a good example of business and the Government working together to secure jobs and growth.
“The automotive sector is among the UK’s beacon industries, attracting more than 6bn inward investment in the past two years and generating around 30 bn of annual export revenue for the economy.”
However, Watkins also showed concerns about government support of the situation that Welsh automatic industry and small enterprises that consist of the majority of the Welsh economy.
“The Government’s automatic industrial strategy must now set out an ambitious plan to ensure the long-term competitiveness of the industry, focused on building supply chains and supporting export growth,” Watkins added.
Spokesperson Jones said: “Investments such as the one made by Ford today are few and far between. We must actively help our existing businesses. The Welsh jobs market is very weak, and unemployment amongst young people remains too high. Too many people work shorter hours than they want to, or work in low value jobs.”
“The Welsh Government could be doing much more to encourage large businesses to relocate to Wales.”
As “The Home of Ford in Wales” and the long term European production base, Bridgend Ford will produce a new fuel-efficient 1.5-litre Eco-Boost petrol engine next year.