Report looks at impact of globalisation on Wales

12 February 2009

A strong skills base is vital to maintaining employment and meeting the challenges of globalisation, says the Welsh Affairs Committee, in a report published today.

The Committee's report examines the effects of global trade on a variety of economic sectors, including employment and skills, broadcasting, and food supply and production.

The Committee found evidence of existing skills gaps in Wales, for example in specialist areas such as science, and recommends that to avoid dependence on low skilled, low paid jobs, the UK and Welsh Assembly Governments work with the higher education sector to raise the skills base.

Universities are the drivers of the knowledge economy, which is key to success in the global marketplace. The Committee says it is imperative that the UK and Welsh Assembly Governments fully integrate the commercial potential of higher education into their policies.

The Committee believes that Welsh companies can increase their value and stimulate the local economy by exploiting a strong local identity and values, and by making use of higher level and specialist skills to offer premium goods and services that cannot be sourced abroad, particularly in the farming and food production industries, where Wales is developing a global reputation for excellence.

Also in the report, the Committee:

  • welcomes the use of innovative methods of broadcasting used by S4C to engage with audiences outside Wales
  • recommends the commissioning of more programmes reflective of Welsh identity
  • supports initiatives helping Welsh companies to exploit their global potential in the creative industries

The Chairman of the Committee, Hywel Francis MP, said:

"The economic climate has changed significantly since the Committee began this inquiry into globalisation over two years ago. Our aim was to examine how global movements of trade affect people in Wales. The economic downturn has demonstrated this effect only too clearly, particularly with the recent announcement from Corus of 1,100 redundancies in the Welsh steel industry.

"We are convinced, from the evidence we heard, that a strong skills base is the key to maintaining levels of employment in Wales and addressing the challenges of globalisation. Re-skilling and up-skilling the Welsh workforce must be a priority in order to secure long-term growth for the economy and prosperity for the people of Wales.

"We recognise the vital economic role played by higher education institutions. The Committee saw first hand how universities can develop global partnerships when we visited Xiamen University in southern China, which is twinned with Cardiff University. Both institutions, working together, are maximising the opportunities presented by globalisation and providing a successful model for others to follow."

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