Area focus: Wales pt. 1

Swansea-Marina

As the jobs market across the whole of the UK struggles to pick up pace, Wales is one region of the UK that also has a fair share of problems.

Although it’s not quite as problematic as other areas in the UK, such as the West Midlands and North East that have consistently high unemployment rates, overall it’s doing slightly worse than its English neighbours and Scottish cousins.

In 2012, the jobs market was flat, while the office of national statistics showed that in 2013, unemployment across Wales had increased by 1,000 from April to June to 122,000. That said, the number of people in work also rose by 5,000 during the same period. An annual rise of 21,000 outperforms the rise of the rest of the UK.

The devolved Welsh government seems to be committed to helping grow the economy with its funded initiative Jobs Growth Wales creating 7,876 job opportunities and its business start-up programme helping to establish 6,281 new enterprises or 12,782 jobs.

Recent figures suggest that consumer spending in Wales is up by 4.5%, which is good news and helps to create job opportunities. Research has also shown that workers in Wales, despite earning (on average) less than their English counterparts and being less skilled are the happiest of all those in the UK.

There have been a number of small, but significant closures of companies in jobs in recent times, for instance the closure of a flour mill in Barry led to 47 job losses, while 27 jobs were lost after a children’s animation company closed and a further 55 were lost at a construction business.

It’s not all doom and gloom though however, with some projects in the pipeline which should be an excellent boost to the jobs economy in Wales. One of the most exciting, the so-called Circuit of Wales in Blaenau Gwent, dubbed the Welsh Silverstone, is set to enter its construction phase very soon, during which time it should create around three thousand jobs. Once construction is complete, estimates suggest the circuit could provide between four and six thousand jobs. Meanwhile, an insurance broker in Llantrisant will be creating 117 new jobs.

Next year should also see further improvement in the jobs market and economy in Wales. The multi-million pound Admiral building in the centre of Cardiff is due for completion in 2014. Insurance broker Admiral is one of Wales’ biggest employers, with 2,500 staff in Cardiff and a total of around 5,000 in South Wales. The new building will have a capacity for around 3,000 staff, while the building itself will also have opportunities for other companies to rent floorspace.

Generally, there seems to be an air of optimism in Wales that the economy and jobs market will continue to grow after what has been a difficult period.

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