BUILDING on existing skills will help deliver jobs for decades to come, housing and local government minister Mark Prisk predicted during a visit to the Fylde.
Mr Prisk joined Fylde MP Mark Menzies on a visit to BAE Systems in Warton for an update on proposals to create an enterprise zone on the site.
Around 20 companies have already expressed an interest in locating to the proposed enterprise zone, and five have signed memorandums of understanding which demonstrate a stronger commitment.
Mr Prisk said: “Lancashire has a fantastic industrial strength, and we want to make sure it is not just its heritage but that it has a strong future.
“I have been very keen to learn more about the plans for an enterprise zone and what it will mean for jobs and homes.
“It is about making sure we build on the strengths of BAE as it is today, so we can widen the number of job opportunities.”
Mr Prisk said he was pleased with the progress which had been made so far, and particularly the way both the public and private sectors were working hand in hand.
He said: “Enterprise zones are about new development but also reusing your existing assets, both physical and in terms of the skills and talents of the people here.”
The minister added creating jobs for the future was key.
He said: “We want to build on the existing skills and talent rather than building something new, but we also need to recognise the skills of the next generation are essential and we have been doing a lot of work around apprenticeships.”
Firms will begin to move into the enterprise zone from the end of next year.
Mr Menzies said: “This is something which will not just deliver short term jobs, but in 25 years time there will be people working on the site as a result of decisions made today.”
The enterprise zone will use government incentives such as tax relief to attract a range of advanced engineering and manufacturing businesses and it is hoped 6,000 new jobs will be created.
A new £90m road linking the Warton enterprise zone with the M55 motorway is also proposed.
During his visit to the Fylde yesterday, Mr Prisk also visited the Pontins site in St Annes, part of which has been earmarked for housing.
Mr Prisk said: “As a country for 20 years we have been building half the homes we need, and that means families are stuck in overcrowded accommodation.
“So we have to build more and brownfield sites are a very important priority as far as we are concerned.”