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  So what are the skills that employers need in the next decade? That was the question posed by the UK Government’s Department for Education and the Skills and Productivity Board to Warwick University’s Institute for Employment Research and the think-tank RAND Europe. Their recent research report is an important read not only for businesses in the UK that are facing a talent shortage but also for those policymakers who seem unable or unwilling to consider new ways of delivering the digital skills that are needed across all industries in order for them to remain competitive. As with other studies examining the future needs of the labour force, the vital importance of digital skills is again highlighted as being key to the competitive advantage of organisations in a range of sectors. These skills include knowledge of artificial Intelligence, automation of processes, 3D printing, cloud-based computing,  information technology and communications systems, and the Internet of Things. Howeve


Next week, we close the search for the fastest growing firms in Wales which will culminate in a glittering awards ceremony in Cardiff later this year where the achievements of some of the most entrepreneurial Welsh firms will be celebrated. The Wales Fast Growth 50 recognises those group of high growth businesses that make a disproportionate contribution to jobs and wealth creation in the Welsh economy.  Since the project was established in 1999, the 674 entrepreneurial firms that have appeared on the lists published in the Western Mail are estimated to have created 48,000 jobs and generated an estimated £27 billion of additional turnover, much of which is spent in their local area.  One of the myths about entrepreneurship that the success of any high growth company is down to one individual, namely the founder. In fact, the myth of the entrepreneurial hero still holds sway in our imaginations and popular culture with individuals such as Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and


So what is the economic impact of universities?  That was the question posed by London School of Economics policy fellow Anna Valero and her colleague John van Reenen of MIT in a recent academic paper. In reviewing previous evidence, Dr Valero suggest that there are various ways in through which universities can affect economic growth. The most obvious is that higher education produces the skilled workers required by businesses and that this can have a boost to local economies given that students who graduate are more likely to seek work in the area where the university is located. Another important role is that of developing and diffusing innovation with universities being crucibles for research and development (R&D) and there is increasing evidence of this being commercialised either through links with local firms or via academics spinning out to create their own businesses.  This role is particularly important in Wales where universities are responsible for 40% of the total R&am


  As we all know, wellbeing is becoming more important in the workplace in all types of organisations.  This increased prominence is down to a range of factors, not least the changes that have occurred because of the recent Covid-19 pandemic which has increased demands from employees from more support from their employers.  In addition, the increase in hybrid working has meant that the previous boundaries between what happens in the home and the office have become increasingly blurred.  And with workers beginning to consider whether to leave or stay with their employers with many resigning because they have simply had enough, health and wellbeing is now becoming a major factor not only in recruiting talent but also in retaining your best members of staff. For example, a study of 500 human resource decision-makers in the UK by Towergate Health found that 42% believed that support for the health and wellbeing of staff was a key reason people stay with their company, with 26% stating that


Last Thursday, we held the Wales Start-Up Awards in Cardiff, and it was great to be back in the familiar surroundings of the Depot with 450 finalists, friends and supporters there to celebrate the best new businesses in Wales. It was also a good time to reflect on the decision to take the awards out of Wales and on the road across the UK as part of a new National Start-Up Awards series.  Over the last four weeks, we have visited Glasgow, Newcastle, Belfast, Birmingham, Reading, Bristol and Manchester with only London left to go in September as a result of the recent train strike. It has certainly been a challenge to take the concept to different cities, especially given that there are no other similar awards recognising and celebrating start-ups across all sectors of the economy. However, I am happy to say that the response from the start-ups themselves has been overwhelming in every part of the UK and we have been fortunate perhaps to capture the real entrepreneurial spirit that has b


  Do we get the bosses we deserve?   Certainly, many of those leading organisations have views of their achievements that are poles apart to that of their employees. For example, a recent report from Deloitte showed a massive difference between those executives who felt they had done a good job supporting their staff during the last two years and those workers who felt otherwise.  Whilst nine out of ten of those in executive management said that they had understood what their employees had gone through the pandemic and they have made the best leadership decisions for the company, only half of their workers agreed with that sentiment. Perhaps the biggest problem, as this column as discussed previously, is that the style of leadership we see in an increasing number of organisations relies on individuals only being powerful because of their job or position, with this power acquired and maintained by a combination of patronage and fear rather than trust and respect. By having that power tr


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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