Blaenau Gwent Learning Zone Blaenavon Ironwork Visitor Experience Porthcawl Marina Caerphilly Castle Visitor Experience Cardiff University Institute for Compound Semi-Conductors Bike Park Wales Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal Newport Transporter Bridge Ponty Lido Vale Trails, Trail 1
Blaenau Gwent – Blaenau Gwent Learning Zone External link
Torfaen – Blaenavon Ironwork Visitor Experience (Heritage Tourism Project) External link
Bridgend – Porthcawl Marina External link
Caerphilly – Caerphilly Castle Visitor Experience (Heritage Tourism Project) External link
Cardiff – Cardiff University Institute for Compound Semi-Conductors External link
Merthyr Tydfil – Bike Park Wales External link
Monmouthshire – Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal External link
Newport – Newport Transporter Bridge External link
Rhondda Cynon Taf – Ponty Lido (National Lido of Wales) External link
Vale of Glamorgan – Vale Trails, Trail 1 External link
Minister for the Economy, Vaughan Gething, delivering the keynote speech to open the event

Minister for the Economy, Vaughan Gething, delivering the keynote speech to open the event

The SE Wales RET EU funds celebration event took place on 10th May 2023 at the Radisson Blu hotel in Cardiff. A big thank you to our presenters and all who attended for making it such a successful day.

The event provided an opportunity to reflect on the impact of EU funded projects across the region and explore how their legacy can be sustained through future policy and programme developments.

We have received some fantastic feedback on the event and are delighted to share a gallery of photos from the day.

Welcome to our final newsletter of 2022.

It’s been another busy period for us; we’ve delivered a number of briefing sessions, held the latest round of our network meetings and continued our filming to ensure we capture the real impact your projects are having across the region.

A big thank you to everyone who completed our stakeholder survey.  We’ve had some great feedback that will now help us plan our service delivery for the next year.

We are sorry to say that Natalie Curtis will be leaving the team at the end of December.  Natalie has been part of SE Wales RET since the very beginning, will be much missed and we’re sure you’ll join us in wishing Natalie the very best of luck in her future career.

With best wishes for the festive season and 2023,

Lisa, Amy, Nat, Kate and Dylan.

Agile Cymru funding call

A new £30k initiative for Welsh organisations is inviting proposals to build economic co-operation between Wales and the Oita region of Japan in areas such as Arts & Culture, Sport, Academia, Tourism, Food & Drink.

Read about the funding call on the Welsh Government website.

Publicity activities and closure

A reminder for lead project partners to keep the WEFO communications team informed of your achievements, milestones, success stories and closure event plans in order for us to help you maximise publicity through our channels and consider Ministerial involvement.

In terms of closure procedures in general, another reminder that project closure guidance is available on the Welsh Government website.

Guidance on closure procedures for Ireland-Wales co-operation projects can be found on the Ireland-Wales website. 

If you have any further queries on this, please contact and discuss with your Project Development Officer in the first instance.

Project closure FAQs

A new FAQ document on project closure is also now available on the website. The document aims to provide beneficiaries with answers to common questions on project closure for the 2014-2020 European Structural Funds.

Read the closure FAQs on the Welsh Government website.

Update to privacy notice

The EU Structural Funds 2014-2020 privacy notice has been updated.

Read the notice on the Welsh Government website.

These are the latest available headline figures for the performance of the ESI funded operations within the SE Region.  If you would like more detail on the data please email us at

FundIndicatorFigures for the SE Region
ERDFEnterprises assisted
Enterprises created2,371
Jobs created13,662
ESFParticipants assisted156,169
Participants supported into employment19,636
Participants gaining qualifications65,564
Participants in education / training5,085

WEFO have provided an infographic showing the cumulative impact EU funds have had on the region since 2007:

Inaugural annual report from the CCR

The CCR has published its first Annual Report, covering the financial year April 2021 to March 2022, detailing the progress made in committing £252m Wider Investment Funds – through 16 pioneering investments across Innovation, Infrastructure, Skills and Challenge.

Titled ‘Building Momentum’, the Report details the UK Government commitment to unlocking a further five years of funding following a successful Gateway Review.

Kellie Beirne, Chief Executive of CCR, summarised the progress made in a milestone year:

“The twelve months spanning our 2021/2022 financial year were something of a ‘launchpad’ – putting the pillars in place to seed, secure and mobilise a range of long-term impactful funds, programmes and partnerships that we believe present the best prospects for sustainable growth, right across our Region. With that foundation now in place, we’re looking forward to progressing in line with our ‘Five for Five’ strategic business plan – to achieve Energy Security, a new legal Corporate Entity, Scaling Up, Levelling Up and an intensified focus on R&D – through 2021-2026.”

View the CCR annual report on their website.

Unleash 2023

Unleash 2023 will be a conference like no other, where the CCR will be creating a safe space for at least 300 local SMEs to come together and join forces, to engage, learn and more importantly facilitate growth and scale up their businesses. The conference will provide an environment that will allow relationships to develop organically, where ideas can be put to the test, but more importantly to explore potential funding and support opportunities.

A dedicated website will be created over the next few weeks to give partners an opportunity to showcase their activity and engage. This will allow pre-event engagement to occur resulting in maximum impact on the day.

If you would like to be part of this new chapter, creating the solutions, supporting growth and unlocking the regions potential, there are a range of sponsorship opportunities available.

Click on the flyer for further details of the Unleash 2023 sponsorship opportunities.

Unleash 2023 – Sponsorship Brochure

If this opportunity isn’t right for you, please share around your networks and keep a look out for the release of the delegate tickets.

Other recent developments

Cardiff Capital Region’s Strategic Premises Fund has secured its first landmark investment, helping drive the next stage of growth for Pulse Plastics Limited by funding their relocation to a 38,000 square foot industrial unit on the Rassau Industrial Estate in Ebbw Vale.

Read more about the Strategic Premises Fund investment in Ebbw Vale

October’s launch of Media Cymru at the National Museum in Cardiff gave birth to a five-year programme focused on creating a hub of innovation in the creative sector across the region. Led by Cardiff University, the ground-breaking Media Cymru strategic investment programme brings together 23 media production, broadcast, technology, university, and local leadership partners.

Read more about the Media Cymru consortium.

Finally, the Innovation Investment Capital fund (IIC) was also launched last month at an event at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.   The IIC is a £50 million fund of long-term investment to catalyse growth and innovation in businesses in the CCR.

Read about the launch of the IIC.

Regional Skills Partnership (RSP) Skills Plan launch

The new 3-year employment & skills plan for the region, ‘Prosperity Through Partnership’, was launched on the 23 November at an event in the Mercure Hotel, Newport.

Vaughan Gething MSP, Minister of the Economy, provided the keynote address at the launch, expressing the importance of collaborative working to make progress and deliver against the actions in the new three-year plan. Cllr Jane Mudd, Leader of Newport City Council outlined how ‘Prosperity Through Partnership’ will deliver its aims for the whole region, addressing priority sector needs and overcoming barriers to growth.  The event also included a discussion panel featuring Mark Owen from Careers Wales, Coleg Gwent’s Guy Lacey, Lisa Myttin of the National Training Federation Wales (NTFW), Deri Bevan from Wales TUC and Lynette Thomas from the Open University.

SE RET will share the live weblink to the new plan as soon as it is available.

On Friday 25th November Torfaen County Borough Council held an event at the International Conference Centre Wales. Torfaen CBC provide the lead beneficiary role for Bridges into Work 2, Working Skills for Adults 2 and Nurture Equip Thrive (NET). The event was an opportunity for all staff members across the three ESF Operations to come together and celebrate and reflect on the work of the last seven years.

Since 2015 the operations have supported over 11,000 participants in total. Bridges into Work has supported 1084 economically inactive or long-term unemployed participants into paid employment and over 1100 people have completed a volunteering placement.  Across the projects 5800 participants have completed free training courses and gained at least one qualification.

NET has enabled over 750 underemployed participants to improve their labour market situation by gaining better paid work, increasing their working hours, or moving from fixed to permanent employment contracts. In addition, NET has focused on improving working people’s health and wellbeing. Over 500 participants with an underlying work limiting health condition or disability have been supported to improve their employment prospects or to stay in employment after a period of long-term absence.

Over 75 staff members joined the event from Aneurin Leisure, Bridgend CBC, Caerphilly CBC, Merthyr Tydfil CBC and Torfaen CBC. The projects are now entering the final months of delivery but if you would like any further information on the three ESF operations please contact Matthew Davies, Senior Funded Operations Manager at

Over the course of its delivery, the Active Inclusion Fund managed by WCVA has supported 184 organisations, 482 projects and 26,121 participants and has awarded £42 million of European funds.  There are currently 27 Active Inclusion projects running in Wales, all of which will close by the end of December 2022.

WCVA have commissioned a series of videos to highlight the particular ways EU funding has helped some of the hardest to reach communities and people in Wales through the Voluntary Sector.

View the impact videos on the WCVA website.

One of the many projects supported by the fund is the Take Charge programme of Innovate Trust who have been providing support and guidance to people with disabilities since 1967.  Take Charge, operating in Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan and RCT, aims to improve employment skills and wellbeing and is open to anyone over the age of 25 who has a learning disability or a work-limiting health condition and is not currently working.

Take Charge case study

Amy is a lady who is deaf and has a learning disability. Amy wanted to learn BSL so she can communicate more effectively with her support staff, family, friends and the wider community when she is volunteering. Communicating effectively with others is an essential skill to have both in the workplace and at home. Currently, Amy’s biggest barrier is her lack of effective communication skills because she hasn’t had the opportunity to learn BSL in an accessible way and has resorted to making up a lot of her own signs. These signs can only be understood by those closest to her so it’s important Amy learns some more BSL to move closer towards new volunteering opportunities and employment.

Amy is also passionate about gardening and nature so we have been working together to teach Amy some BSL whilst also educating her about sustainable development. Take Charge was able to provide the one-to-one sessions she needed to improve her BSL and learn more about nature. Amy had only met the Take Charge staff once before yet she was willing to practise new signs with us and work as a team to find the best way to learn, showing excellent perseverance and resilience. Our first session was our introductory BSL work relevant certificate before moving on to our sustainable development themed sessions.

Amy has completed three sustainable development themed sessions with us so far. Her first session was titled ‘Who lives in your garden’. This session aimed to encourage participants to take care of the wildlife in their garden and improve biodiversity. We helped Amy to learn about the wildlife in her garden as well as teaching her new signs for the animals and insects she may find. Amy concentrated well throughout the session. We used a BSL app to help Amy to learn the signs we weren’t confident with. Amy actually used the app herself after we showed her how it works and typed in the words she wanted translating into BSL. Being able to use an app like this will be really helpful for Amy’s BSL development. The app can also be used as a tool to communicate with others. Amy is now confident using signs for various animals and insects in her garden.

Our second sustainable development themed session focused on the benefits plants have on the environment. Amy learnt about photosynthesis and global warming in this session. We also covered the positive impact plants can have on our wellbeing and encouraged Amy to think about which type of plants she would like to grow.

As this session covered a similar theme, we could go over the previous signs Amy had learnt and then introduce some new, plant specific ones. Again, Amy showed great enthusiasm throughout and engaged brilliantly. It has been really helpful for Amy’s confidence for her to show us the signs she could remember. Take Charge was able to provide these sessions at Amy’s pace to ensure she could get the most out of the experience. Amy now knows more BSL than before and is starting to feel more confident when signing to new people. Amy can use some of these nature themed signs when she volunteers at a community garden. Similarly, Amy could go over her signs again during our third session which focused on the Big Butterfly Count.

We feel that Amy is now ready to move on to a more in-depth BSL course. After liaising with Wales Council for Deaf, we have found Amy a free, informal BSL course which is due to start after October half term. This course will help Amy to continue with her confidence and her BSL development.

Find out more about Take Charge on the Innovate Trust website.

The ESF Priority 1 funded Staying Well @ Work Service (SWAW) is led by Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council.  It offers support to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) within RCT to ensure all those employed in the Local Authority area have access to ‘in work’ support services which pay particular attention to the wellbeing needs of individuals and the development of supportive Policies.

Client A case study

In supporting individuals, the project provides clinical support to staff to improve daily functioning and symptom management, enabling people to return to, or continue to, work.  Below is an example of how the project has helped one of these clients.

The client was referred to the SWAW team by their line manager as it had become apparent that their work competences were being affected due to an ongoing issue with a colleague. They were experiencing symptoms of anxiety and profoundly decreased confidence in their work.

The client engaged with six weekly/fortnightly review appointments via the Attend Anywhere platform. During these review appointments, the client was supported to discuss their work-related issues in a confidential and non-judgmental environment. This allowed the client to build on their confidence, recognise their triggers and apply effective coping strategies. They were also supported to work on their assertive rights and how to implement these in work related situations.

“I felt listened to and Emma created a safe space so that I was able to share what was going on for me. I have regained my confidence and how I was feeling was normalised and helped me put things into perspective. On my first session I was a shadow of my former self, emotional and with a lot of self-doubt, on my final session I was the confident, focused person who found her passion for her work again”.

Business support case study

As well as clinical support for individuals, SWAW supports businesses and their staff in fostering a culture of equality and wellbeing through the development of robust policies, structures, processes and behaviours.  One of the companies they have recently worked with is Pontus.

Pontus, based in Hirwaun offer R&D services to the aquaculture, marine and aquatics sectors for the development of nutritional and health products.

The business is looking to grow and expand to additional premises in the near future. As part of this growth plan, they required a more robust framework of policies to support the health and wellbeing of their workforce. The policies also need to provide support and protection for the business, enabling them to work towards becoming an employer of choice in the community.

SW@W suggested a review of their existing workplace policies and additional policies to support the wellbeing of their staff and make their people management framework more robust. They then successfully implemented these interventions in partnership with the company.

The result was the development of a workplace culture where the health and wellbeing of staff has improved, with clarity around the rights, entitlements, expectations and support available to employees.

Ivan Tankovski – Director of Research said:

“I’m happy to say that the feedback on our current policies was very useful, but what was even more appreciated was the fact that this programme allowed us to adopt many new policies, without investing additional resources in the writing. Since the implementation of the policies, our staff are much more aware of their rights and responsibilities, and so is the management. This has resulted in an improvement in staff morale and general wellbeing. I would strongly recommend Staying Well @ Work to companies with limited manpower and/or capital to focus on policy writing.”

ERDF funding has also been awarded to Pontus via the Welsh Government’s SMARTCymru project’s Innovation Voucher and Innovation Voucher Plus programmes.  This funding has been used to assist the company in introducing innovative processes into the business, and in implementing these and other new and improved processes and service options to help them grow and expand the business.

Newport City Council has been leading on the delivery of ESF funded Local Authority Employability projects across the East Wales area of the region but now that work has come to an end.

Inspire to Work (I2W) targeted 16-24 year olds not in education, employment or training (NEET) and Journey to Work (J2W) worked to increase the employability of Economically Inactive and Long Term Unemployed people aged 25 and over, who have complex barriers to employment. Both operations provided a ‘person centred’ approach, to engage, support and enable participants to gain a range of skills, qualifications and meaningful work placements to feel confident and motivated to enter into sustainable employment or further learning.

With delivery completed at the end of September this year, it is clear just how successful the programme has been. Andrew Smailes, project manager of both operations reports that:

“Cumulatively the I2W operation has exceeded its target for male participants (103%); participants gaining qualifications (113%) and participants entering employment on leaving (120%).  As for J2W, the operation has done fantastically well delivering employment outcomes despite the difficulties experienced during COVID achieving 139% of target for economically inactive participants entering employment and 138% for long term unemployed participants entering employment on leaving programme. These are some great results and they testament to the hard work of all the delivery teams across the operation within the joint beneficiaries.”

The final evaluation reports for both Inspire 2 Work and Journey 2 Work will be published on the project pages of the SE RET website once they are available.

Find out more about Journey 2 Work.

Find out more about Inspire 2Work EW.

Graduate Programme Wales, was announced as the “STEM Educational Programme of the Year (Private Sector)” at this year’s 2022 Wales STEM Awards held at the Mercure Cardiff Holland House Hotel on 27th October.  The category recognises businesses who are addressing the stem diversity gap, the skills shortage and inspiring the next generation.

Graduate Programme Wales is the ESF Priority 2 funded programme managed by the Welsh Contact Centre Forum.  It was set up to attract and develop STEM graduates into roles within Data, AI and Financial Services with a view of keeping high calibre talent in Wales.  It offers two graduate programmes; a two-year financial services programme and a fast-track Data/AI programme which runs for 10 months.

Winners of the 2022 Wales STEM Awards:

  • Innovation in STEM Award – Llusern Scientific Limited
  • STEM Ambassador of the Year – Seb York, CatSci
  • STEM Woman of the Year – Sharan Johnstone, University of South Wales
  • STEM Sustainability Award – Design Reality Limited
  • STEM Start-up of the Year – Think Air
  • STEM Company of the Year (over 50 employees) – CatSci
  • STEM Company of the Year (under 50 employees) – SparkLab Cymru
  • STEM Educational Programme of the Year (Private Sector) – Welsh Contact Centre Forum, Graduate Programme Wales
  • STEM Educational Programme of the Year (Public Sector) – Swansea University, Science for Schools Scheme
  • STEM Educational Programme of the Year (Not-For-Profit Sector) – EESW-STEM Cymru
  • STEM International Company of the Year – Laser Wire Solutions
  • STEM Rising Star of the Year – Charlotte Lewis, Simbec-Orion Group

The Graduate Programme Delivery Manager, Caroline Jerrett said: “It’s a pleasure that the Programme is gaining recognition for the work everyone involved has done to raise awareness of a career in STEM to a diverse pool of graduate talent.

Our unique collaboration between industry and education has allowed us to adapt and respond with agility to the ever-changing landscape, to equip STEM graduates with the necessary skills to drive innovation and economic growth and to help close the skills gap that has been impacting businesses.”

The employers involved with the Programmes include Admiral, Atradius,, Hodge Bank, Principality Building Society, Opel Vauxhall Finance and Pepper Money and since its inception, 214 graduates have passed through the programme, with an average of 91% securing well paid jobs by the end of their final placement.

Click below to see a short video clip on The Graduate Programme Wales project.  This is a glimpse of an extended ESF Priority 1 and 2 film to follow in the new year.

Welcome to our September newsletter!

This edition is focused on how EU funds are contributing to the ambition to reach net zero.  Read on to see how projects are supporting the circular economy, reducing the carbon footprint of industry, delivering major scientific and technological innovation, upskilling individuals, and making use of the natural environment to support decarbonisation.

We have been delighted to host some of our network meetings in person recently, enabling productive partnership discussion at a group and individual level.  Our SE SME Competitiveness Network members also enjoyed a tour of the bustling Newport Market, learning how it’s become home to a dynamic mix of businesses and work spaces alongside the fabulous food and stalls on offer!

Work has begun on our next short film that will demonstrate how ESF funds are supporting people into work and further learning, to gain qualifications and reach their potential in the workplace – look out for sneak previews on our Twitter page coming soon!

An invitation to share your thoughts on our RET service will soon drop into your inboxes.  We would love to hear what you would like us to deliver in the coming months so we can continue to provide a service that meets the needs of all our stakeholders – please help us out by responding to our survey!

Lisa, Amy, Kate, Natalie and Dylan – the SE Regional Engagement Team (RET)

Update on the ESF Participants Survey

Please be aware that WEFO has commissioned IFF Research to undertake the second part of the ESF Participants Survey for the 2014-2020 Programme.

IFF Research are conducting a survey with a sample of ESF Participants who have completed training or received support via ESF funded projects and have left the project at least 6 months prior to the survey.  IFF will send out letters to those on the sample a week before the fieldwork starts to inform them they will receive a call.  The letter also includes a link to the survey privacy notice, an email and freephone number to IFF for any queries.

Fieldwork started in early August and is planned to take place in three waves:

  • Wave 1 – to be conducted between August and mid-November to include participants who have left provision between April 2018 and July 2021.
  • Wave 2 – to be conducted between January and February 2023 to include additional participants who left up to December 2021.
  • Wave 3 – to be conducted between April and May 2023 to include additional participants who left up to April 2022.

Respondents will be asked about what they were doing before they participated in the project, their reasons for participating in the project and whether they think the project has been of benefit to them since.

The aims of the survey are to fulfil the EC reporting requirements and to provide WEFO and our partner organisations with robust information to assess the effectiveness of the ESF programmes across Wales.

If you have any queries about the ESF Participants Survey, please contact or

Publicity Activities and Closure

A reminder for lead project partners to keep the WEFO communications team informed of your achievements, milestones, success stories and closure event plans for them to help you maximise publicity through their channels and consider Ministerial involvement.

In terms of closure procedures in general, another reminder that project closure guidance is available on the Welsh Government website.

Guidance on closure procedures for Ireland-Wales co-operation projects can be found on the Ireland-Wales website. 

If you have any further queries on this, please contact and discuss with your Project Development Officer in the first instance.

Wales Rural Network Support Unit (WRNSU)

The WRNSU aids the exchange of ideas between rural organisations. It is available to anyone:

  • interested in rural development
  • involved with the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 and the schemes it funds
  • wanting to keep up to speed with future funding information

Find out more about the Wales Rural Network support unit.

These are the latest available headline figures for the performance of the ESI funded operations within the SE Region.  If you would like more detail on the data please email us at

FundIndicatorFigures for the SE Region
ERDFEnterprises assisted
Enterprises created2,242
Jobs created10,689
ESFParticipants assisted128,719
Participants supported into employment11,898
Participants gaining qualifications52,381
Participants in education / training3,148

WEFO have updated their infographics to reflect the latest figures:

Join the climate coalition putting CCR’s Energy Strategy into action…

Climate change is the greatest issue facing us today – and yet there’s a growing consensus that not enough is being done to meet the challenge. If you’re a business or a network in South East Wales, this is your chance to do something big about that – by becoming part of the CCR Climate Coalition.

The Cardiff Capital Region Energy Strategy is all about making sure the whole of Southeast Wales hits a wide range of green targets by 2035.

Those targets include having 27% of our homes with low carbon heating, 64% of the cars in our region becoming Ultra Low Electric Vehicles – and 50% of our total energy consumption powered by renewable electricity.

The City Deal team can’t do that on their own – but by partnering with small, medium and large enterprises across the region, there can be a catalyst for a remarkable transition that will create stronger businesses, more resilient communities, higher value jobs, greater energy and food security; and a more inclusive prosperity.

That’s why  they’re forming a CCR Climate Coalition to share good practices and build-in the region’s greener capacity to hit targets.

The message is clear to all businesses in the region – come and join in, explain what you want a green region to look like for your business and the wider world, share your ideas and learn from the best practices.

If you have any questions or queries, please email:, or  – and be at the forefront of positive change in the region.

The Young Person’s Guarantee (YPG) is the Welsh Government’s key commitment to everyone living in Wales under the age of 25, with support to gain a place in education, training or support to get into work or become self-employed. Part of YPG, the Big Ideas Wales service supports the next generation of young entrepreneurs in Wales and encourages young people 25 and under to develop enterprise skills whatever the career choice. To support potential young entrepreneurs, Big Ideas Wales offers a tailored programme of events, workshops and one-to-one advice to help young people build confidence in business, develop their ideas and to start a business.  The Young Person’s Start Up Grant is also available to enable young people not in education, employment or training to start their own business.

Find out more about Big Ideas Wales

Big Ideas Wales ‘On Tour’ is a special, free event visiting different locations across Wales, specifically designed for any young person aged 25 or under that already has a business idea or is simply curious about the world of self-employment.  Young people can hear from business owners, take part in an interactive workshop about being self-employed and meet other young people with similar interests.  Upcoming dates in the SE region are:

  • 18th October – Bridgend
  • 26 October – Ebbw Vale
  • 3 November – Cardiff

Leave these events with a greater understanding of what it takes to get a business started and the confidence to do so with the support of Big Ideas Wales.

Find out more about the Big Ideas Wales tour and book a place via the Business Wales website.

Following the publication of climate change statistics in June this year, the First Minister outlined in July how all five of the Bills to be introduced during the second year of the Welsh Government’s legislative programme will help address climate change and support the environment.

They are:

  • Bill on Single Use Plastics which will ban or restrict the sale of commonly littered items, such as plastic straws and cutlery
  • Clean Air Bill to introduce ambitious targets and regulations to reduce emissions and improve air quality
  • an Agriculture Bill to reform support for Welsh agriculture, focusing on sustainable food production and rewarding farmers who take action to protect the environment
  • Bill on Infrastructure Consenting to simplify the process for agreeing major infrastructure projects, providing more certainty for communities and developers
  • Bill on Coal Tip Safety to improve the management of disused coal tips, protecting communities living in the shadow of these tips, as the risk of weather-related damage to them increases

Mark Drakeford MS said:

“I am proud to introduce this ambitious legislative programme with a clear focus on Wales’ stronger, fairer and greener future.  The climate emergency is very much with us. We will introduce five important Bills, which will help to protect our environment, improve the quality of the air we breathe and stop so much plastic polluting our beautiful land and seascape.”

Find out more about the Welsh Government’s planned future legislative programme.

Find out more about progress towards Wales 2020 climate change targets.

If you are interested in learning more about the Welsh Government’s approach to Climate Change they produce a bulletin on the subject.  To subscribe to the newsletter email

Focus Futures, delivered by Business in Focus is funded by the UK Government’s Community Renewal Fund support local people to ‘build back better’.

This project has been developed to support local people to develop their skills and confidence to further their entrepreneurial goals, return to the workplace, as well as support businesses that are struggling following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some examples of the achievements to date across the Cardiff Capital Region:

  • They have supported a local man to develop a waste management service for domestic and commercial clients. To ensure he has a sustainable income, he was assisted in using his vehicles to provide HGV services to local hauliers through a referral service, and introduced to the Sell2Wales platform to find opportunities across the public sector.
  • Supported a Bridgend resident looking to establish a salvage yard to process metals and sell parts online or export to African/Middle Eastern countries. They’re also considering storage for shipping containers, for which the project is assisting them to access a Start Up Loan.
  • A local man has received support to launch own scaffolding business having worked across the industry for over 20 years. The business aims to grow and develop over the next 12-24 months, offering further employment opportunities and additional investment.  The support also included the recommendation of sourcing Public Procurement opportunities.

The project is looking to support more individuals and businesses throughout the region, so if you are interested, please see their details below:

01656 868502

Latest news from the Infuse programme: Infusing our public sector with ingenuity and innovative skills

Our public sector is transforming before our very eyes, and the Infuse programme is delivering ways to tackle the region’s biggest challenges with each cohort of learners.

Cohort Two started in June of this year with 36 Associates from 9 local authorities & 9 associates from public and third sector organisations. This was the first time that Infuse was open to all public and third sector organisations.  As a result, there is a wide range of skills and experience – supported by Infuse’s team of research fellows, data scientists, and experts in innovation, data and procurement – working together.  They will be striving to understand and consider how to tackle the themes of Accelerating Decarbonisation and Supportive communities by addressing a specific issue within the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR).

When it comes to Accelerating Decarbonisation for the region, the previous cohorts have already worked with ingenuity to make steps towards the CCR’s Net Zero goals. One of the Infuse associates’ work set out to understand whether there is an opportunity to generate energy through ‘anaerobic digestion’ from an overlooked waste stream, such as dog waste. Another associate looked at Carbon Mapping homes, to prioritise the need for retrofitting work in the region.

This month, the current learners (Cohort Two) are now at the stage of the programme where they will begin setting their sights and focusing in on a challenge for their organisation and community that they want to address, individually or as a collaborative group.  The Infuse operation will update on these findings in the new year.

In the meantime, look out for their September 2022 newsletter at the end of this month where they will be launching 5 new case studies from Cohort One, including explorative work on finding fleet vehicles route to low emissions and understanding energy demand in schools to inform investment decisions.  These will also be linked to their case studies page on the Monmouthshire County Borough Council website, where you can also find others that have been previously published:

Read the Infuse case studies on the Monmouthshire Council website.

Lastly, the project will be recruiting for Cohort Three this Autumn.  Please register your interest in joining and Infuse will be sure to get in touch as soon as applications are formally open.

Register your interest in joining the third Infuse cohort

At CEIC, they are promoting a Circular Economy (CE) approach in which materials and equipment are used, reused, and repurposed as effectively as possible, and for as long as possible.

The public sector in the Cardiff Capital and Swansea Bay regions needs to work effectively together to rethink how their resources are managed, shared in new, and existing projects and services so that they can maximise the financial, environmental, and social benefits within their organisations.

During the CEIC programme so far, 10 groups of 126 public service colleagues have initiated designing solutions to 22 Circular Economy challenges.

Some of the challenge areas which are developing include:

  • Organisational Development: staff engagement in CE, staff learning in carbon literacy
  • Community Engagement: shared resource centres, social tenant CE development, local food production, shared gardening as public food supply
  • Decarbonisation of Estate & Resources: social housing retrofits, transport & fleet development, public asset retrofit, Welsh wool as insulation
  • Reuse, remanufacture: medical plastics, mine water re-appropriation, repurposing existing estate

October will see the start of CEIC’s FINAL 2 cohorts, in the Swansea Bay and Cardiff Capital Regions.

These cohorts are themed around local supply chains to develop foundational systems as Circular Economy levers. Specifically in relation to food, transport, and health & social care. These CEIC programmes involve working together with colleagues across the Cardiff Capital and Swansea Bay Regions to understand and solve the challenges, implementing foundational economy as circular levers for change.

Find out more on the CEIC website.

Join public service colleagues across councils, local health boards, colleges, universities, charities, and various other organisations to tackle your challenges.

Apply for the CEIC programme on their project website.

Business Wales will be hosting eight digital sessions featuring expert speakers sharing their knowledge, exploring resource efficiency and how they can help you to take action to mitigate your impact on climate change. Subject resource packs are available to download for each session to enable you to explore how you can take positive steps to implement change within your own business.

Business Wales can also provide bespoke 1-2-1 advice sessions, so if you feel inspired by what you watch, get in touch with the team to book your free session where their specialist advisers will help you to map out your Green Ambition and take proactive steps towards becoming a more resource efficient business.

Find out more about Green Ambition

Get in touch with the Green Ambition team at Business Wales.

The Valleys Regional Park (VRP) has been working with a range of other stakeholders on the development of a National Nature Service for Wales.

Valleys Regional Park aims to pilot the ambitions of a National Nature Service in an area where both jobs and nature restoration is needed the most. VRP will help explore how such an initiative could add value and depth to existing services while setting out a scalable approach that could support the wider vision of a National Nature Service for Wales.

A Nature Emergency

In 2021, Welsh Government declared a Nature Emergency, acknowledging the perilous state of our natural environment and the interconnectedness of both the climate and nature crises. Restoring and protecting nature boosts biodiversity and the ecosystems that can rapidly and cheaply absorb carbon again. And restoring nature at scale, across resilient ecological networks, means our life-supporting environment is more resilient and better able to withstand the inevitable shocks that we are already seeing as part of a changing climate.

Put simply, action on nature is action on climate.

The challenge is huge, but restoring nature at the scale required would result in a range of wider benefits. The creation of a National Nature Service for Wales is seen as one of the ways to meet the challenge whilst maximising this wider benefit.

A National Nature Service for Wales

The core aim of the National Nature Service is restoring nature whilst creating new green jobs and kickstarting a shift toward a green skills pipeline in Wales.

Valleys Regional Park’s contribution to the proposals centre around the idea of using the Discovery Gateways and similar sites to deliver nature-based skills, learning and training opportunities on the doorsteps of local communities.  The proposals aim to help establish a meaningful foundation that can underpin a National Nature Service, whilst also helping to deliver some of the core ambitions of the Valleys Regional Park vision itself.

The VRP Discovery Gateways represent a highly visible, highly accessible network of hubs near to local communities. The 12 VRP Discovery Gateways alone receive over 2 million visits annually.

Nature-based volunteer and environmental education programmes, across a network of local sites, could provide the foundation for green skills and eco-literacy training as part of a National Nature Service for Wales. Such an approach would reimagine our Country Parks and similar sites as vital community hubs providing opportunities for reconnecting people with nature and natural processes, whilst also providing tangible opportunities for deeper involvement around skills, training and education.

Providing the qualified and experienced ranger-type job roles to develop and deliver these programmes could see a significant return on investment, reaching large numbers of people in helping address some of the root causes of the nature crisis. It could also repurpose and regenerate the network of Country Parks and Discovery Gateways to provide a strong foundation for the delivery of a National Nature Service, creating new jobs, new employment pathways and helping embed the culture change needed to meet the generational challenge before us.

To get involved in creating the National Nature Service, visit for more information and to register your interest.


Daniel Lock

Landscape, Culture and Identity Convenor, Valleys Regional Park.

The journey to Net Zero will require major scientific, technological and cultural advances but one of the biggest factors will be furnishing the workforce with the skills to deliver the transition. The Materials and Manufacturing Academy (M2A) and Materials and Manufacturing Education Training and Learning (METaL) project at Swansea University have already been taking steps to upskill/reskill individuals to deliver decarbonisation through postgraduate research and work-based learning. Collaboration between the two projects has presented a clear progression in skills from initial engagement at level 4 up to doctoral level qualifications. The research and training offered delivers technical solutions and highly skilled individuals who go into industry to lead the transition.

Upskilling continues to be provided through a range of modules from the WEFO funded METaL Project which is committed to supporting businesses in Wales meet their environmental goals and move towards net zero. These modules are available to businesses across Wales, including the Cardiff Capital Region, and are currently free of charge.

Find out more about the Materials for Energy training module.

The Introduction to Circular Economy module is designed to explain key concepts and underlying philosophy of CE, its benefits for industry, and practical ideas for businesses to implement these concepts into their operations.

Find out more about the Circular Economy training module.

The Environmental Impact & Sustainability module is for anyone keen to learn more about environmental legislation, the impacts of environmental taxation and how to obtain environmental permits.

Find out more about the Environmental Impact and Sustainability training module.

Introduction to Electric Vehicles is launching imminently and as the name suggests will focus on alternatives to traditional fossil fuelled transportation. The principles of combustion engines and their greenhouse gas emissions will be detailed as well as the latest advancements towards carbon-neutral motor vehicles.


Find out more about the Introduction to Electric Vehicles training module.

Industry plays a significant role in reducing our carbon footprint with a major challenge being that of decarbonising the steel industry. A green steelmaking module has been developed and outlines the opportunities the transition poses.

Find out more about the Green Steelmaking module.

Manufacturing will be fundamental in achieving the infrastructure developments required and will be presented with the challenge of recruiting skilled individuals as well as developing new materials and processes for such things as the Hydrogen Economy. Even traditional manufacturing techniques such as welding will require a new focus due to the increased risk of failure in these environments. Fundamental understanding of the process continues to be delivered via the metal arc welding module.

Find out more about the Arc Welding module.

No previous experience is required to enrol onto these courses; they are accredited by Swansea University and on successful completion students receive a certificate and 10 university credits.

Despite this initial offering, the development of ‘green skills’ has only just started, and the delivery of skills will require a collaborative effort of schools engagement through to Further Education and Higher Education provision. Following the success of the initial work, a proposal is now being developed to expand the offering to deliver ‘SWITCH-On Skills’: a multi-level skills escalator to deliver the requirements of Net Zero.

In addition to developing courses, METaL’s YouTube channel is regularly updated with new content, much of which focuses on net zero and environmental issues.

Subscribe to the METaL YouTube chanel.

For more information visit the project websites

The Kickstart Scheme has come to a close, with more than 230 young people recruited through WCVA for voluntary organisations across Wales.

The Kickstart Scheme was a UK Government initiative aimed to help young people into work. With fully funded six-month job placements for young people on Universal Credit, not only did the scheme offer vital employment but it also gave voluntary organisations the chance to increase their capacity at a time of need.

WCVA was a ‘gateway’ body for voluntary organisations in Wales – supporting voluntary organisations who weren’t large enough to qualify for the scheme to apply in batches.

Over the two years the scheme ran, they helped 60 organisations recruit more than 230 young people for varied and interesting positions across the voluntary sector.

Find out how the Kickstart Scheme has helped young people through voluntary sector organisations across Wales.

Advanced Media Production aims to provide accredited training to enhance innovation and productivity within Welsh public and private sector industries.

Working with Aberystwyth University, we offer businesses and their employees access to high level training to enable them to become more sustainable and efficient and with a specific focus on new technologies and their potential for increasing growth and jobs.

Training is delivered in an industry-responsive and flexible format enabling students to work via supported distance learning to update their technical knowledge and improve their digital and media skills.

Digital and media production and distribution has become a ‘way of life’ for the majority of us with almost all social and professional communications conducted through digital channels.

Advanced Media Production supports Welsh businesses and organisations to stay at the forefront of developments within the digital and media industry. Its main objective is to support Welsh companies and organisations by providing heavily-subsidised training for their workforce on new technology and developments within the digital and media production areas.

  • Choice of 11 modules delivered through the medium of Welsh, English or bilingually.
  • Distance and online learning
  • Each online module runs for 14 weeks and are designed to allow students to study without the need to take time out of work.
  • No exams – assessment by coursework
  • Three annual intakes – February, June and October
  • Modules include: Introduction to Media Production; Programming for Digital Media; Applied Graphics; Web Development; Big Data; Digital Culture; Gender and Media Production
  • Study individual modules or work towards a postgraduate qualification (up to Masters level).

The operation uses green spaces and environmental activities as an engagement tool into a positive model of progression; aligned with local education, training, employment and time-banking opportunities.

The project has been specifically designed to offer preventative/early intervention initiatives that promote real, hands-on opportunities to improve physical and mental well-being, re-engage with work and build sustainable networks of peer support.

This will be achieved through:

  • personal development;
  • acquisition of skills and accreditation;
  • encouraging participants to take control of and responsibility for achieving their own wellbeing;
  • staying independent,
  • gaining and sustaining work.

Participants will have access to a practical, active recovery journey will allow two-way movement between an eight-tiered delivery model – developing skills through a staged approach to personal development that recognises the potential for relapse, fatigue, side effects of medication, chaotic lifestyles and fluctuating levels of confidence, self-belief and motivation.

All individual participants will be experiencing long-term unemployment or economic inactivity; exacerbated by work-limiting mental health conditions. As well as a wide range of inter-related barriers to participation in the open labour market.