ENSURING key employers like Cadbury’s and Kronospan stay in Chirk rather than moving abroad should be one of the top priorities for Wales’ new Business and Enterprise Minister.

That is the message from new Clwyd South AM, Ken Skates.

Edwina Hart, formerly Health Minister, has been appointed to the business post by First Minister Carwyn Jones.

And Mr Skates stressed areas like North East Wales needed a “bold and innovative” approach to boost manufacturing in the region.

“Manufacturing still accounts for a tenth of the Welsh workforce despite the difficulties it has encountered over the last few years,” said Mr Skates.

“Developing a bright future for the sector and attracting new, high skilled jobs to Wales will be a key part of powering the national economy forward over the next decade and central to getting more people back into employment.

“Encouraging a high performance culture, greater inward investment and attracting more high skilled jobs will be a key challenge over the next 10 years and should be central to the Welsh Government’s delivery agenda.

“Last year’s Manufacturing in Wales report highlighted the pressing need to identify higher value business opportunities and raise skill levels if places like North East Wales, which rely heavily on manufacturing, are to thrive once again.

“Ensuring major employers in my constituency such as Cadbury and Kronospan are not attracted to relocate their operations overseas to Eastern Europe, China or India is a big issue and will require bold and innovative policies from the new Welsh Labour Government.”

Mr Skates added: “In part this will mean changing the image of manufacturing in Wales and putting it at the forefront of Wales’ cutting edge future if we are to attract bright Welsh talent into the industry.

“This will mean getting more young people into the sector with the skills and abilities that business requires.

“It will mean co-ordination across government and I’ll be seeking out meetings with Ministers to put the case for regional manufacturing to put it on to a firm and sustainable footing for the 21st century.

“I look forward to seeing the new Minister get to grips with this challenge and to joining AMs in developing the new ideas we need for the sector.”