EBBW VALE is leading the way in providing young people from the area with key jobs for the future, first minister Mark Drakeford said on a visit to the town on Friday, May 20.

Mr Drakeford was in the historic steelworks town to open the next stage of a global cyber security hub, ResilientWorks.

It is the latest development on the former Ebbw Vale steelworks site, creating a technology campus with the National Digital Exploitation Centre, NDEC.

The new £7 million innovation cluster opened today is jointly funded by global technology company Thales and the Welsh Government’s Tech Valleys programme, with a research contribution from Cardiff University.

Mr Drakeford was shown around the new ResilientWorks building, which is described as a living laboratory that enables leading tech companies to test and develop autonomous vehicle and power systems.

The initiative works alongside schools and colleges, laying a pathway for the next generation of talent to go into cyber security.

The first minister was then driven around the site in an autonomous vehicle before meeting with pupils studying in cyber security.

Speaking to the Argus at today’s launch, Mr Drakeford praised the hub for helping promote Ebbw Vale to the world.

“It’s wonderful to hear those two things in the same sentence – Ebbw Vale and global developments – and that’s exactly what we’re seeing here,” the first minister said.

“A major international company with links around the world using the centre here in Ebbw Vale as one of the drivers for its own ambitions.

South Wales Argus: Mr Drakeford also gave a speech at the event. (Welsh Government)Mr Drakeford also gave a speech at the event. (Welsh Government)

“It’s my second visit in the last couple of years. There’s huge efforts being made here to make sure that young people in this part of the world are equipped with the sorts of skills and understanding that they will need because these are the jobs of the future.”

Asked whether he could give people assurance that these jobs would be here to stay in Ebbw Vale, Mr Drakeford added: “I think that is one of the real important messages that this centre sends out.

“Old heavy industries have had a really tough time, but what we’re seeing in Wales today are ways in which we can reposition ourselves across a range of different things.”

ResilientWorks will expand the campus begun by NDEC, a £20 million joint investment launched in 2019 by Thales, the Welsh Government and the University of South Wales.

The first business developed on the former Ebbw Vale steelworks site as part of the area’s economic regeneration plan, NDEC has won work for Wales from Innovate UK and the UK Government, and is working with international companies such as EDF and Williams Grand Prix Engineering, and Welsh companies including Protecht and Awen Collective.

South Wales Argus: First Minister Mark Drakeford talks to students at today's launch. (Welsh Government)First Minister Mark Drakeford talks to students at today's launch. (Welsh Government)

The expanding Thales development at Ebbw Vale directly employs 28 people so far, and has created both PhDs and degree apprenticeships.

NDEC business manager Leanne Connor – a former student at the school, said: “There’s no reason why people in this area can’t move into well-paid high tech jobs. The team here are real-life examples that it can be done.

“We’re delivering our commitment to the Welsh Government to work with schools and colleges to develop a pipeline for talent for the future. Our educational outreach is being very well received in schools and we’re really starting to have an impact.

“The number of female students going into STEM subjects and looking at cyber as career options is increasing. Local schools are delighted that a company like Thales wants to work with them.

“We’re starting to normalise the idea among young people in this area that they can have a career in cyber.”