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Two sides of the coin

Once the latest unemployment figures had come out, I didn't think it would take too long for the Plaid Cymru press machine to start praising the Deputy First Minister's 'decisive actions' in 'driving forward' the ProAct scheme.

This is despite the fact that it actually falls under Jane Hutt's skills portfolio rather than his. So much for partnership working across the coalition government when they fall over themselves like dogs over a bone to claim the credit for this programme.

Of course, I suppose I should be flattered, given that this blog suggested a scheme such as ProAct as long ago as November, well before the economic summits even got round to discussing this issue.

As I said then,

"Rather than watching impotently as firms lay off key workers, why doesn’t the Assembly Government set up a multi-million- pound key fund which enables businesses to temporarily move their workers, during the current economic crisis, onto skills training courses?

Not only would this enable businesses to retain their skilled workers through government support over the next 12 months, but it would provide opportunities for upskilling and, critically, enable firms to be in a more competitive position when we emerge from recession.

It would also provide a boost to the business and training support sector of the Welsh economy at a time when firms may, inevitably, be cutting back on this aspect of their business".

Who would have thought that this Labour-Plaid Government would have taken any notice of advice from a Tory of all people?

Certainly, Pro-Act has been useful for some companies but not all have seen the value of participation - just ask the 390 workers facing redundancy in the Deputy First Minister's own backyard at Angelesey Aluminium.

However, just one final thought before some people get carried away with the latest statistics which many experts still consider a blip.

The Welsh Assembly Government seems very eager to claim credit for the small fall in unemployment of 1,000 people in the latest Labour Force Survey.

However, let's not forget also that under their stewardship of the economy, there has been an overall net increase in Welsh unemployment of 31,000 during the last twelve months.

When they start dealing with that properly, then they can start opening the champagne bottles.


Jeff Jones said…
As I've said on another blog I think it is dangerous for any political party particularly if they are in power during these uncertain times to play politics with the unemployment figures. They also forget at their peril that some of us do read the FT on a regular basis. As a young socialist I was told by an old Marxist that reading the FT and the Economist was essential for anyone wanting to change society. Advice I've never forgotten! Although the Toyata decision today is to be welcomed . We should not forget that decisions made by companies such as Tata over the next few months could have a major impact on employment in certain parts of Wales. As for Pro Act it is obviously an interesting short term measure. It will be interesting to see once we start to come out of the recession how academics such as yourself will assess the long term effects of the scheme. If it has been a genuine attempt to retrain and upskill then we should see the benefits in the long term. The worry of course is that in some cases it is merely been used to postpone the inevitable and when the scheme ends the redundancies will still occur.
Anonymous said…
I agree in part with Jeff's comments above concerning the long term benefits of the training. What concerns me is the type of the training that qualifies for assistance. I believe that the scheme should only sanction Nationally recognised and transferrable qualifications. What is the use of the training if it doesn't technically upskill the workforce or is not recognised elsewhere? I would like to see the types of courses that have been approved and some transparency. I fear that the winners here could be parasitic training companies. If fact this will already have been seen by some as a huge money making opportunity.

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