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DO WE GET THE BOSSES WE DESERVE? LEADERSHIP IN TODAY'S ORGANISATIONS

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GRADUATE ENTERPRISE ACTIVITY IN WALES

Last week, the Higher Education Statistics Agency released the results of their latest business and community interaction survey (HEBCIS). This examines the interactions between UK higher education providers and business and the wider community and measures areas such as intellectual property (copyrights, trademarks, design rights, trade secrets and patents), regeneration programmes and continuous professional development. Not surprisingly, I believe that the most important data that is gathered by the HEBCIS survey relates to spin-off activities, more specifically the number of new graduate enterprises.  This is because it not only measures the contribution of higher education in establishing start-ups within each nation or region but, more importantly, gives an indication of whether the interventions developed by universities to boost enterprise results in the creation of more businesses. According to the survey, there was a 16% increase in the number of start-up firms founded by UK

BUSINESSES SUPPORTING UKRAINE

Since the day Russian tanks rolled across the border into Ukraine, nations across the World have been going the extra mile to support the people of that resilient nation.  Whilst governments and politicians have imposed sanctions and cut diplomatic ties, the private sector has also responded to the ongoing situation mainly through the withdrawal of major global businesses from Russia.  As a result, the Institute of International Finance estimated that the Russia's economy will shrink 15% this year and 3% in 2023, wiping out fifteen years of economic gains. Whether that will eventually have any effect on the current situation is anyone’s guess but with over a thousand Western businesses having left, or are in the process of leaving, all sectors of the Russian economy have been hit hard by those large corporations ending their links with the country. In energy, BP is divesting its multi-billion pound stake in Russian oil firm Rosneft and Shell is ending its partnership with Russian e

WHAT EMPLOYEES ARE LOOKING FOR FROM THEIR EMPLOYERS

This week, we saw yet another report demonstrating that the ‘great resignation’ theme which this column has been discussing over the last six months continues to dominate the future of the workplace. The “Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2022” from professional services firm PWC questioned over 52,000 adults who are in work or active in the labour market on a range of issues affecting their future. It found that, as with many other studies, employees are increasingly looking for new opportunities elsewhere.  According to the study - which was undertaken in 44 countries across the world -  one in five workers are likely to switch to a new employer in the near future with those aged between 18 and 41 being more likely to take that step to change their careers.  Of those who are looking for new positions, 44% are less likely to find their job fulfilling, 43% don’t believe their team cares about them, and 41% don’t feel that their manager listens to them.  More relevantly, these thr

THE IMPORTANCE OF NEW BUSINESSES TO THE UK ECONOMY

Earlier this week, I chaired the final judging panels for the 2022 National Startup of the Year awards. Comprising of over 100 entrepreneurs and business supporters who had given their time to support the recognition of the best new businesses in the UK, it was a difficult process given the quality of so many of the entries. Having initially started the Wales Start-up Awards back in 2016 as a way of celebrating the best new Welsh businesses, I took what seems like a crazy decision last year to extend them to every region and nation of the UK.  Fortunately, I haven’t had to do this myself after partnering with Cardiff-based Ideas Forums, who organise the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, to manage the expansion across the nation.  Despite the hard work, it is has been an amazing journey with over 2,500 entries being whittled down to 900 finalists that have a collective turnover of £300 million and are employing over 5000 people across the UK.  Reading those stories of entrepreneurial t

BULLYING IN THE WORKPLACE

There is growing evidence that despite many organisations claiming to have more employee focused policies, bullying is on the rise within the workplace. For example, a recent study found that 75% of employees had reported that they had either been a target of, or have witnessed, bullying at work.  Another survey of 2,000 UK based employees on their experiences at work to date found that 23% of the British workforce has been bullied at work, 25% have been made to feel left out by colleagues, and 12% admitted to struggling to make friends where they worked. As well being defined by persistent offensive, intimidating, humiliating behaviour, workplace bullying can take many forms including regularly undermining someone, unfair treatment or denying someone’s training or promotion opportunities. As a result, this now increasingly involves the abuse of authority by senior managers, reflecting an autocratic style by some that is increasingly in conflict with the work practices of some of the b

THE GAMES INDUSTRY IN WALES

If you don’t have a teenage son or daughter, you may not ever have heard of the video game Grand Theft Auto (GTA). In fact, few would realise that the five versions of GTA have, since the first game was launched in 1997, sold over 355 million units worldwide. In fact, the fifth version has generated over $6 billion in sales, higher than top grossing films such as Avatar, Avengers, Titanic or Star Wars, making it the most successful product ever to be developed in the creative industries sector. Despite this, the games industry remains one which has been largely unappreciated here in the UK even though it contributes £2.9 billion to the economy, supports nearly 50,000 jobs and has 75% of its revenue from international sales. But what about the video games industry in Wales and given the global potential of the sector, is there scope to make it a significant contributor to the knowledge-based economy? Two of my colleagues at the University of South Wales have recently mapped the developm

IMPROVING GENDER EQUALITY GLOBALLY

As many reports have noted during the last few years, achieving gender equality between men and women can make a real difference to economic prosperity across the World. One of the most important studies in this area is the Global Gender Gap Index from the World Economic Forum which annually benchmarks 156 countries across four key dimensions (Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment) and tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time. Whilst it would be natural to expect this gap to close every year, the 2022 report suggest that there has been slowing down in the achievement of equality across the World and this has been driven largely by a decline in large countries. This means that, given this data, it will take over 135 years to close the gender gap worldwide. Of course, this gap is not the same everywhere with Iceland yet again leading the way as the most gender-equal country in the world. Indeed, the othe

SUPPORTING TOWN CENTRES AFTER COVID 19

With the local authority elections taking place in Wales next week, a number of lobbying and membership organisations have produced a range of policy papers over the last few months highlighting some of the key issues that councils could tackle when they are re-elected. One of the most relevant of these is the report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) entitled a “Vision for Welsh Towns” which has examined the main challenges, issues and opportunities for town centres across Wales.  Given the diversity of town centres, there is unlikely to be one simple solution to the issues raised in the report. Nevertheless, the study should give food for thought not only to local authorities on the way forward for towns across Wales but also to other key stakeholders including the Welsh Government, the UK Government and private business. So what do the public in Wales think about the state of their towns? Unfortunately, the research shows that two thirds of those interviewed described the

MENTAL HEALTH, COVID-19 AND THE GREAT RESIGNATION

Earlier this month, this column examined some of the reasons behind the so-called “Great Resignation” phenomenon that had seriously affected the US economy and examined some of the reasons as to why employees were leaving their jobs following the Covid pandemic. Interestingly, a new study on mental health in the workplace by the accountants Deloitte found that 28% of employees have either left in 2021 or are planning to leave their jobs in 2022, with 61% citing poor mental health as the reason they are leaving.  Why is this happening now? The report seems to suggest that job insecurity due to the impact of the pandemic meant that many had delayed switching their employers or leaving to start a new position or a new business.  However, the opportunity to do something different in a buoyant jobs market  as opposed to continuing with long hours and increased stress in their current position has resulted in nearly 30% of the workforce leaving their current employer. And at a time when busi

THE IMPORTANCE OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Helping entrepreneurs start, grow, and renew their businesses is one of the most important interventions that any local, regional or national government can take to help create jobs and raise living standards, especially within more deprived communities. As with other nations across the world that are looking to grow their economy, entrepreneurship needs to be at the forefront of economic policy at both a national and regional level in the UK and there are a number of priorities in encouraging greater participation in entrepreneurial activity that must be at the forefront of any strategic approach to increasing prosperity and boosting employment. Entrepreneurs are at the heart of every economy and society. They develop new opportunities which lead to greater job creation, they instigate innovation to develop new products, services and markets and disrupt traditional sectors by developing new way of working. They are at the forefront of social change and are the driving force behind sol

THE GREAT RESIGNATION - HOW TRENDS FROM THE USA WILL AFFECT THE UK ECONOMY

  This week’s column comes from New York where I have been spending the last few days exploring the ‘city that never sleeps’.  Thanks to the pandemic, this is my first visit to the USA for a while and it has been a fascinating to experience how the country has changed and adapted to the challenges of the last two years. Whilst the economy has recovered, the key trend has been that of the “Great Resignation” where a record number of workers have left their employers. In fact, a staggering 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in February 2022. Why is this happening at a time when job stability should have been a key consideration for many after a turbulent period? According to a recent survey from the Pew Research Center, workers who quit a job in 2021 did so because of low pay (63%), no opportunities for advancement (63%) and feeling disrespected at work (57%). Also, the majority of those that left their previous employer for a new job have improved their prospects - the same survey fo

THE EVENTS INDUSTRY AND ITS IMPACT ON THE UK ECONOMY

During the pandemic, the events industry across the UK was hit hard as venues were shut, Covid rules were brought in to restrict attendance and there was a general reluctance by sponsors and businesses to get involved in a situation where uncertainty and cancellations were the norm. Whilst there was a shift to online events and meetings and there was some success in making this transition, this did not make up for the lost revenue from holding live events across the UK. Given that much of the sector was essentially stopped from working during the last two years, it is easy to forget that the event industry is a significant contributor to the UK economy, with a recent report submitted to the Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport estimating that the industry generates £84 billion every year with conferences and business events generating over £18 billion in direct spend annually. Of course, nothing beats attending a live events as opposed to sitting in front of a computer as one

THE IMPORTANCE OF UNIVERSITIES TO THE ECONOMIC RECOVERY

If we are to create a successful knowledge-based economy, then the transfer of knowledge from universities to businesses will be a vital part of that transformation over the next decade. In particular, understanding what actually happens in the interactions between higher education and industry and improving the way both partners work together will be key in maximising the potential to create and support the industries of the future. That is why new research published this week by the Centre for Business Research at the University of Cambridge and the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) should be vital reading for Vice Chancellors, chief executives and policymakers. It is an impressive study and this column will not be able to do justice to all of the results that have emerged from a survey of nearly 4,000 businesses examining how they interact with universities in the UK. However, some of the higher level findings show that universities and businesses do work together

IMPROVING POLICYMAKING IN THE UK

As someone who spent over two years working as an advisor to the Welsh Government on creating the case for a new Development Bank for Wales, I know from first-hand experience that policymaking isn’t always easy.  Ministers often have very little time to examine every potential option in detail and are often reliant upon their civil servants to provide the right advice and guidance on key decisions.  In many respects, this was brought into stark focus during the Covid 19 pandemic when politicians and policymakers had to work quickly and without any prior experience to cope with a once in a lifetime event that had no prior reference points to relate to.  Some, such as former chief adviser to the Prime Minister Dominic Cummings, have suggested that the civil service simply wasn’t fit for purpose in dealing with a national emergency and needs root and branch reform to be fit for the 21st century. Whilst the Covid-19 inquiry will no doubt shed light on how this whole process was managed, th

ENTREPRENEURSHIP POLICY - LEARNING FROM THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT

Earlier this week, the Scottish Government published a new National Strategy for Economic Transformation. This contains seventy actions across five key priority programmes which, following a detailed analysis of Scotland’s economic strengths and weaknesses, have been identified as having the greatest potential to deliver economic growth. Given that there is no similar economic strategy here in Wales, it provides an interesting framework for the Welsh Government to examine in terms of approach over the next four years. I was particularly excited to see that one of the key priority programmes will focus on entrepreneurship to create a culture which entrepreneurship is encouraged, supported and celebrated. To achieve this, it will focus on four key projects that will result in Scotland being recognised as one of the best countries in the world to start and grow a business, surely something that should be an ambition here in Wales as well. The first of these projects is that of embedding t

CO-WORKING AFTER THE PANDEMIC

During the last two years, there have many changes to the way we work and live that will now become permanent features of our daily lives going forward. This ranges from a greater focus on local purchasing, the increasing use of delivery services and possibly the most significant of all, the growth of flexible working. Whilst working from home was initially a legal requirement across the World to deal with the health challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, as countries have opened up again, many employees have begun to realise that they did not want to go back into the workplace every day. For example, the “European Coworking Spaces During Pandemic” report recently suggested that the commute to the office will reduce with 78% of respondents expecting that there will be increase in the number of workers will want to work close to home with a further 73% expecting that there will also be a growth in home working. Another study from Work From Home Research showed that 68 per cent of those qu