THE ambitious Circuit of Wales project in Ebbw Vale has won the support of the UK’s biggest trade union and one of the largest construction firms in the world.
Unite and FCC Construction have welcomed the opportunities for jobs, training and apprenticeships which will be created by the £425 million racetrack project in Blaenau Gwent.
The Welsh Government has twice turned down the scheme over concerns around the amount of public money which will be tied up in the project. But last week the project team submitted a new bid which reportedly meets with the Welsh Government’s requirement of requiring a guarantee of no more than 50 per cent of public money.
Construction could begin this summer, with 1,500 workers employed during the first stage and a further 800 employed full-time for the first two years. Between 4,000 and 6,000 full time building jobs will be created during the entire construction scheme.
Unite Wales secretary Andy Richards said the project “represents an important vote of confidence in Wales’ credentials as a prime location for investment”.
“Unite welcomes The Circuit of Wales’ commitment to delivering a high-quality construction skills, training and apprenticeship programme that helps to future-proof the local economy and create a long-term job creation plan that supports the wider South Wales regional economy,” he said.
UK and Ireland commercial director at FCC Stephen Rickwood also backed the scheme.
“FCC Construction fully supports The Circuit of Wales’ focus on developing a responsible employment strategy that not only ensures world-class delivery, but also builds a sustainable pipeline of talent within the local area, able to support the additional construction projects across the region that The Circuit of Wales is set to stimulate,” he said.
“The Circuit of Wales’ skills and training programme aligns with our own focus on embedding skills, training and high-quality employment and apprenticeship opportunities for local communities into the globally renowned construction projects that we deliver.”
The circuit’s chief executive Martin Whitaker said: “We warmly welcome the support of our colleagues in Unite the Union and look forward to working closely with FCC Construction and our local partners to kick start this transformational regeneration project.
“Our wide ranging job creation, construction skills and training plan will deliver significant benefits for communities across Wales, Blaenau Gwent and Ebbw Vale, and provide a major boost to the Welsh economy.”
As part of the scheme the project team is planning to create a Construction Skills Academy helping prepare 14 to 30-year-olds to work in the construction industry. An apprenticeship scheme will be run in conjunction with this.
The circuit is also planning on creating a technical academy alongside further education colleges in Gwent.
Last week Wales' economy and infrastrucutre secretary Ken Skates said it would take between four and six week to assess the new bid.