The Welsh economy faces a number of difficulties. Some of these are unique to Wales, whilst others are evident across the UK.
- Compared to other devolved nations and English regions, Wales has the lowest Gross Value Added (GVA – a measure of economic output) per person.
- Many communities still suffer the negative effects of globalisation and deindustrialisation. Inequality and poverty persist; some depend highly on a single employer, putting them at risk.
- A gender pay gap exists – by one measure, women earn 15.7 per cent less than men. Many women are underemployed or stuck in part time work when they would rather a full time position.
- Habitats and species are being lost, adversely affecting biodiversity.
The expert witnesses discussed some of the ways an economic strategy could address these issues in a series of five sessions looking at women in the economy; the economy and the environment; the future of the Welsh economy; quality of work; and the foundational economy.
The Economy and the Environment
A Prosperous Wales is one of the seven goals set out in the The Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. This goal sets an aspiration for Wales to be:
An innovative, productive and low carbon society which recognises the limits of the global environment and therefore uses resources efficiently and proportionately (including acting on climate change); and which develops a skilled and well-educated population in an economy which generates wealth and provides employment opportunities, allowing people to take advantage of the wealth generated through securing decent work.
How could an economic strategy need to be structured to meet this goal? How might the strategy deliver economically more generally?
Quality of Work
Many areas of Wales are challenged with high levels of unemployment and low wages through the cumulative effects of deindustrialisation and globalisation. A proliferation of part time work, temporary employment and zero-hours contracts have contributed to declining job security and the challenges this brings.
How could an economic strategy help to improve employment conditions for Welsh workers in an inclusive way?
On 15th March 2017, the Committee sought the views of experts researching in this area.
The Foundational Economy
Past economic development strategies have tended to focus on high-value manufacturing and exporting sectors. Although these are vital to the Welsh economy, many have argued that this excludes the ‘foundational economy’ – more mundane, pervasive part of the economy which provides every day goods and services vital to everyday life.
Assembly members debated the foundational economy in Plenary on March 8th 2017.