Last week I visited two of the major employers in Bristol, Airbus, based in Filton, and The Bristol Port Company. Both have a huge and historic significance for our region, and will play a big part in our future inclusive growth. We need to make sure we are working together to deliver a city where everyone can access and benefit from the opportunities they offer.
I visited the Port along with Cllr Nicola Beech as cabinet member for Spatial Planning and City Design with Cllrs Don Alexander and Jo Sergeant as local councillors. Cllr Stephen Clarke was also there in his capacity as a board member.
At the Port, I heard about their plans and had a tour of the site to see a small portion of the 1million square feet of warehousing there – the scale is incredible and sometimes hard to imagine. I was given a tour and showed the huge scale and variety of products brought through the port. It was also very obvious that the port is going to play a major role in the development of the Hinkley Point.
During my tour of the Airbus site I was invited to control the landing gear testing facility which tests the lifespan and durability of the structures. It was a small insight into the high-tech and advanced engineering which the company produces.
The Port employs 564 full time and 80 part time employees. Their work generates a multiplier of 9,000 jobs locally, and 20,000 jobs nationally. Airbus employs around 3,000 people in the South West of England. Their supply chain from businesses in the local area and elsewhere support further economic activity in the South West. They estimate that Airbus’ South West-based supply chain supports around 9,200 jobs in the region.
Both of these companies have long term commitments to the city and so are conscious of their responsibility to bridge the skills gap and develop their workforce. At the port I was told that 79 of the full time employees came through as apprentices and they currently have 20 apprentices. While at Airbus I was able to meet with some of the apprentices and hear about the great opportunities this multi-national company is able to offer young people from the region and beyond.
It is good to hear about the investment in their work force, but the future for both these industries cannot be taken for granted. Both exist in highly competitive environments and we need to make sure that we take on their views about how we ensure Bristol and the wider region has the capacity to support their growth.