Welsh Labour leader and First Minister Carwyn Jones has today written exclusively for the Sunday Telegraph setting out Welsh Labour’s plans for growing the Welsh economy.
“Are you sure we can't blow up a car for you?
It's not a question I normally get asked when visiting businesses across Wales, but Real SFX aren't like a normal business. As you might have guessed, they do special effects - from disintegrating Daleks on Dr Who, to car crashes on Corrie, they know how to make TV go with a bang. A small, dynamic firm with a growing crew of Welsh staff, and Welsh Labour funded apprentices; they're just one example of a real success story for us in recent years.
The creative industries have always been synonymous with Wales in one way or another, but now we're making the land of song a place to set up shop and do business. Beating off competition from Scotland and across England, we landed the first new Pinewood studio in the UK.
Relentless Software, an award winning games developer has also found a new home in Wales, after a Welsh Government backed deal enticed them away from setting up in the States. Bad Wolf, the production company started by BBC high-fliers, Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner, will shortly begin work on an adaptation on Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials'.
It's a success story Welsh Labour wants to build on, and that's why our manifesto launched later this week will include a commitment to establish 'Creative Wales'. A wholly owned Welsh Government subsidiary; it will be given its own budget and freedom to drive the growth of creative industries in Wales.
Although we've punched above our weight in recent years, we know that the film industry want to talk to experts and need quick decisions when thinking about locations, skills and support. A body that backs home-grown talent - but with a hotline to Hollywood - we'll expect Creative Wales to boost the number of new creative businesses by at least 100 by 2020, creating 4000 new jobs in this exciting sector within the next ten years.
When it comes to staffing our creative industries Wales is nearly operating at full capacity and so we want Creative Wales to work with our Colleges and Universities, to speed up the stream of skilled youngsters ready to take on an apprenticeship and to build TV crews and companies of their own.
The buzz and excitement of the creative sector may seem a million miles away from the grim economic headlines we're seeing on steel at the moment - but it is important to realise that Wales has a diverse and expanding economy. We are ready to act on steel - we have put together a £60million package to support Tata Steel - and we have said that could be available to buyers, in addition to other support. If you scaled that number up to a UK context, you would be talking about £1bn being an equivalent sum from the UK Government.
We don't know yet if that's the scale of intervention required, but it certainly highlights the seriousness on our part as a devolved administration. The first thing I've asked the Prime Minister to look at is pensions liabilities because that's the single biggest assurance I think a new buyer will want covered off, and we need to hear some more about this very soon.
Steel is the dominant subject in Wales as you'd expect, but next people are also keen to understand where we are going on other areas of the economy. Increasingly the knowledge economy is driving growth in Wales, and far from supplanting heavy industry, it can give it the competitive edge it needs. Two other manifesto pledges will help with this.
The first is a new Business Accelerator Support Scheme, targeted at medium-sized Welsh businesses with a global potential. We know that its medium-sized businesses that have the best opportunity to grow, but they're also the ones that are weighed down most by risk.
This is something the CBI has been talking to us about for some time. They note, quite rightly, that the Mittelstand firms in Germany is where the action is, and yet in the UK too often medium-sized companies are stuck in a pattern of limited growth. And so, in the next Assembly, Welsh Labour will work with business to make sure we share some of the risk and support these vital companies better, with marketing, skills development, advertising and international networking. We'll help our Welsh employers overcome whatever barriers they identify in order to grow from good to great.
Secondly, we're going to build on the success of two home-grown Business Hubs in Wales - the Welsh Innovation Centre for Enterprise (ICE) in Caerphilly, and the Tech Hub in Swansea. These business incubators have allowed entrepreneurs to work together, develop start-ups and early stage businesses and get the foothold they need in their chosen markets.
Shared space has proven to be a real engine for innovation - but it has to be the right shared space. We want to roll this model out across the rest of Wales, keeping the new hubs tightly linked in to the existing FE and HE provision. Business Hubs will be a vital in creating more quality jobs, closer to where people live.
And so too will the creation of at least 100,000 all-age apprenticeships. Welsh Labour has a proud record of delivering the best apprenticeship opportunities in the UK and we lead England by a significant distance in terms of completion rates. Alongside a tax cut for all small businesses, the offer of high quality apprenticeships will fuel the growth of employers the length and breadth of Wales.
Finally, we know there's always more we can do to whip Government into shape in the way we support business. So, we'll create competitiveness units in all our Government departments, to ensure what we're doing makes sense for the economy. As a Labour Government, we've worn our business-friendly credentials proudly - I've never accepted the false dichotomy of private sector bad, public sector good, or the other way round!
Our model in Wales has been about the art of the possible, combined with a commitment to fairness. And for that to work, you need business and the public sector pulling together. When we beat off global competition to bring Aston Martin to Wales, the company said it wasn't the financial package that won them over - they did get better offers - but it was the passion for the business that really sealed the deal.
Whether it's our fight to keep the steel industry alive, or our support to the best drama and action series, Welsh Labour is passionate about growing our economy. When we launch our manifesto this week, people will see a party full of fresh ideas to bring prosperity and security to our communities.