As Hereford Times readers may have know, on January 9th I was made Energy Minister, as part of a ministerial mini-reshuffle which moved Baroness Neville-Rolfe to the Treasury.
To take over the full brief after a stint as the junior minister is a great honour, but it also comes with a huge range of responsibilities, which cover the gamut of energy generation, supply and distribution, across oil and gas, nuclear and renewables.
This week my colleagues and I launched the Government’s new Industrial Strategy. This is an attempt to create a long-term, cross-party approach to economic policy in its widest sense, covering the whole of the UK: a framework which can guide new investment over the coming decade, and longer.
It will cover such areas as better road, rail, air and communications Infrastructure; greater support for Innovation, tying research and industry closer together; and a new focus on maximizing the distinctive strengths of the UK’s nations, regions and cities.
A key element of the Industrial Strategy is its emphasis on technical education, and that fits perfectly with the well-developed plans we have to create a university in Herefordshire, specialising in engineering.
That project has now moved another step closer. The Herefordshire Tertiary Education Trust has revealed that it has now received £1,050,000 in cash or in kind – more than double the original target.
The trust also needed 30 more founders to reach a total of 100 individuals, businesses and organisations pledged to making a minimum donation and seed investment of £5,000.
They have now all been secured. This huge local support demonstrates the goodwill from local businesspeople towards a local university.
Importantly, it also proves once again to Government that we mean business here in Herefordshire.
Great credit must go to this newspaper and to our High Sheriff, Bill Jackson. Both have vigorously made the case, and their leadership has been essential in securing the founders and donors.
Last September I visited the production line at Rolls-Royce in my ministerial capacity at BEIS.
It was a very inspiring afternoon, and meeting the company's young apprentices and specialists underlined once again the importance of what we are trying to do in Herefordshire.
There is massive demand amongst British companies for skilled and rounded engineers with hands-on industry experience, who are ready for immediate employment.
Herefordshire can be a place that provides this next generation of world-leading engineers.