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First Minister hails “jobs of the future” as ResilientWorks opens in Ebbw Vale

Schoolchildren and top tech companies are working together to fight hackers from a former Welsh steelworks, with the next stage of a global cyber security hub opened today by the First Minister of Wales. ResilientWorks is the latest development on the former Ebbw Vale steelworks site, creating a technology campus with the National Digital Exploitation Centre, NDEC. The new £7m 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.

ResilientWorks is a living laboratory that enables leading tech companies to test and develop autonomous vehicle and power systems, with a scientific research programme bringing university researchers and companies together in facilities that include research laboratories, a test track, and model street complex. The initiative works alongside a major schools and colleges outreach programme, laying a pathway for the next generation of talent to go into the cyber industry. 

ResilientWorks will expand the campus begun by NDEC, a £20m 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. 

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: 

Ebbw Vale was once a place that exported steel across the globe. Now we’re working together as government, industry and universities, joining forces to export knowledge around the world.

“ResilientWorks will help establish Wales as a centre of excellence for cyber security technology for critical national infrastructure and industry."

“These are the jobs of the future in the industries of the future.” 

The expanding Thales development at Ebbw Vale plays an important role growing both talent and high-tech jobs in the area. As well as directly employing 28 people so far and growing businesses in the local supplier base, it has created both PhDs and degree apprenticeships and shows a clear route to STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers for valleys children.

Thales is a founder company of the Cyber College Cymru initiative, a, partnership between industry and FE colleges that now educates over 100 students a year in Welsh FE colleges. Through outreach programmes for schools, for example, a weekly “Cyber Club” for Year 9 students at Abertillery Learning Community, Thales staff and research graduates work with schoolchildren to develop their cyber skills and career aspirations.

NDEC Business Manager Leanne Connor is a former student at the school: 

“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.”