Vaughan Gething has promised to expand free childcare for families in his bid to become Wales’ next first minister.
Mr Gething made the commitment at the launch of his manifesto in Wrexham on Saturday.
He also promised to ease congestion on the M4 corridor, increase the number of apprenticeships and tackle the “scourge” of unsafe coal tips.
Mr Gething and Education Minister Jeremy Miles are vying to succeed Mark Drakeford when he steps down in March.
“Welsh Labour has already delivered the best childcare offer in practise in the UK,” Mr Gething told BBC Radio Wales ahead of the manifesto launch at Coleg Cambria.
He said “childcare really does matter to working parents” and that “not everyone can rely on informal childcare”.
“I want to expand [childcare provision in Wales] so more parents with younger children can access the Childcare Offer,” he said.
“It does require more resources, it does require a change in the money we receive, and that requires a change at the UK level.”
The Welsh government has faced calls to bring its childcare plans into line with the UK government’s in England.
If he becomes first minister, Mr Gething also pledged to make infrastructure improvements to ease congestion along the M4 corridor.
He said he would strengthen transport links across south east Wales by delivering on a 2020 report, commissioned by the Welsh government, that recommended an £800m investment in public transport.
Speaking at the launch, he said he wanted to get the public more engaged on issues like transport.
“I actually think it’s really important for the public to have greater engagement in why we’re designing a different future, to both meet the challenges of climate change, but also our social challenges and how we feel connected around the world that we live in, and of course, for the future of the economy,” he said.
“So I think it’s really important that with more engagement that we have to show that we are listening to people, I think that really matters.”
He made a number of other promises in his manifesto, including to increase the number of apprenticeships – the funding for which has recently been cut.
He also pledged to do everything in his power to tackle the “scourge” of Wales’ 2,500 disused coal tips, one in seven of which is deemed high risk.
His manifesto also included a commitment to accelerate the building of social housing, but did not set a target.
And there was a pledge to create a “fully functioning environmental governance body” to hold the Welsh government to account on things like sewage spills.
Mr Gething said he would also prioritise money from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) – which replaces the money Wales previously received from the EU – into apprenticeships to boost job prospects and the Welsh economy.
He said he had secured a “commitment” from UK Labour that a future government led by Sir Keir Starmer would “repatriate” the funding to the Welsh government.
Jeremy Miles will launch his manifesto this week, with the winner to be announced on 16 March.
Mr Miles has won the backing of most of Welsh Labour’s Senedd politicians in the party’s leadership contest.
But he hit out on Friday after Wales’ largest trade union Unite announced it was backing Mr Gething – after deeming Mr Miles “ineligible” because he had not “held elected lay office as representatives of workers”.