New jobs for Swansea, Crumlin, Maerdy and Monmouth

Worker with machinery Image copyright Welsh Government
Image caption SPC will be sharing a factory in Maerdy, Rhondda and creating 40 jobs

More than 250 new jobs are being created in south Wales, the first in a series of announcements this week.

The jobs at four firms include 100 at BT's call centre in Swansea and 50 posts at a healthcare firm in Crumlin.

They come just days after Wales failed to secure a large defence investment from Boeing UK for a centre of excellence and up to 1,500 jobs.

Economy Secretary Ken Skates said it was "disappointing" Cardiff Airport missed out on Boeing's hub.

The 256 new jobs involve:

  • BT: Creating 100 jobs in Swansea by expanding its customer service contact centre and taking a new floor at BT Tower
  • Siltbuster: Creating 66 new jobs in Monmouth in a £4.3m expansion of its portable water treatment business.
  • BBI Group: Creating 50 jobs and safeguarding 360 jobs at diagnostics and healthcare company's new HQ in Crumlin, Caerphilly County, centralising operations from Blaenavon, Cardiff and Dundee in a £8.5m investment.
  • SPC: Wiltshire-based rubber firm creating 40 new jobs in Maerdy, Rhondda after taking over two rubber compound production lines from Avon Engineered Rubber. One moved to Wiltshire and another line was due to move to Barcelona but that is now staying in south Wales with new investment in the factory, which SPC will share with Avon.

It is the first in a series of job announcements being made this week by Mr Skates.

He said it was an indication of the "hard work going on behind the scenes" by the Welsh Government.

Mr Skates said: "It's particularly important to recognise that every part of Wales needs to benefit from economic growth so I'm keen to announce through this themed week, job creation packages in every area of the country."

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Media captionKirsty Young of BBI Group says the investment would enable the firm to expand

BBI Group began in 1986 as a Cardiff University spin-out company and now has a £60m turnover.

It produces enzymes and assays for use in diagnostics for a wide range of diseases.

SPC operations director Paul Hallas said its new facility was "the latest phase of our expansion plans for the growing business".

What they produce is sold across the world to firms which make diagnostic kits for anything from hospital blood tests, to home kits for people with diabetes.

It is a growing sector and one company they supply make 6bn diagnostics strips a year.

The company took over a site in Blaenavon which has been operating since 1974 and some of the staff have been there for more than 30 years.

They are skilled jobs, many have science degrees and all are paid above average for Wales.

The news comes as it emerged Wales had failed to secure a large investment from Boeing UK.

Instead, the US aerospace giant confirmed to BBC Wales that the jobs and investment are going to Wiltshire and that a site at Cardiff Airport came second.

Aerospace is an industry which the Welsh Government has called a priority sector.

There are already 160 aerospace companies in Wales employing 23,000 people, many of whom will earn wages above average.

"We got down to the final two," said Mr Skates.

"We're in a strong position should opportunities emerge from Boeing. However, the fact we reached that point demonstrates we're ahead of most of the competition in most of the sectors."

He said the Ministry of Defence presence in that area was an attraction to Boeing, and Wales had beaten off a huge number of investment areas across Britain to get close to winning the deal.

Many more people are working in Wales than recent years and Welsh unemployment levels have been below the UK average for many months.

The ONS figures published in January show there were 24,000 more people working in Wales than a year earlier but 18,000 fewer than the previous three months.

Clearly it is good news for the extra individuals who are now in work and good for the wider economy that unemployment in Wales is now below the UK rate.

The weakness in the Welsh economy is low productivity and low wages.

The most recent official Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings figures from ONS for April 2016 show middle income workers (median earnings) in Wales earn £492.40 a week compared with £538.70 for the UK as a whole.

That is the second lowest average earnings of all the 12 nations and regions of the UK.

Mr Skates said it was about focusing on priority jobs and sectors such as financial and professional services - which were bringing "incredible results" - and advanced manufacturing.

He told BBC Wales he also wants people, once in work, to develop their skill levels to "rise up the escalator of economic activity" to become more prosperous.

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