Why is the site’s steel heritage particularly pertinent to Thales and its cyber ambitions?
We are looking to expand Thales’ offering through the NDEC and other projects such as the aptly named ‘ResilientWorks’ in Ebbw Vale, so that we can enhance our position as global leaders in providing security solutions to organisations looking to protect their operational technology against cyber-attacks.
Wales is already home to one of the largest Cybersecurity clusters in Europe, meaning it has the knowledge, investment and infrastructure to become a strong global cybersecurity player – making it an ideal location to realise our own ambitions.
We also wanted to create a centre in the UK that had very specific know-how and understanding in the field of operational technology, which Ebbw Vale has in abundance due to its heritage.”
How will the cyber industry support the development of Welsh businesses?
“To date, over 90% of our staff are employed locally. Thales has already spent more than £1.3m in the region, utilising 85 suppliers - helping to stimulate sustainable growth, create jobs and regenerate the area.
Hosting industry days and networking events has enabled local organisations to connect with like-minded businesses, creating new opportunities for collaboration.
The NDEC is the first R&D facility of its kind in Wales where SMEs can test and develop their digital concepts. This enables organisations to showcase their innovations in an environment with appropriate equipment, technology and expertise, which has enabled them to gain access to government funding and grants so that they can drive forward their innovations into profitable enterprises.
Thales is also teaching Welsh businesses about the importance of cyber security in OT so that they can harness the benefits of digital transformation safely and securely, and benefit from good digital practices and the opportunities that digital transformation presents.”
How will the cyber industry help to develop new skills and job opportunities within Wales?
Creating high quality, well paid and sustainable jobs is at the heart of our ambitions, which is why skill development and education plays such a fundamental role in the work that we are undertaking.
Since 2019 we have worked with over 75 schools and supported five PhDs related to cyber security. As part of this, we aim to inspire students about the opportunities within the cyber industry and develop clear pathways for success.
Our close partnership with Welsh academia and the government has started to stimulate fundamental change. By influencing government policy and developing the curriculum, young people will learn the right skills to secure the cyber jobs of the future.
This partnership, along with a number of other key welsh industry players has established the ‘Cyber College Cymru’, which offers a bespoke BTEC qualification for students to graduate with a pathway into a degree apprenticeship, or an industry apprenticeship. As a result, we can access leading cyber talent, whilst combating the global shortage of cyber skills and cementing Ebbw Vale’s long-term position at the heart of the technology industry.
However, our work isn’t purely about economics and jobs. We are also helping to prepare Wales for major infrastructure changes and a healthier, more sustainable future, by undertaking research and development, such as aiding the development of autonomous vehicles.