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Aberystwyth University workers strike over planned changes to pensions

University staff will be on strike for the next four days. Credit: ITV News / Kevin Ashford

Workers at Aberystwyth University are protesting this morning over planned changes which unions claim will mean losses to pensions of up to 50 per cent.

The University is extremely disappointed that a small number of staff have said they intend to take industrial action. Whilst fully respecting an individual's right to strike, to target the weekend that the University welcomes its newest students goes against all the hard work undertaken by colleagues during the past year to build relationships and attract students to Aberystwyth.

After a successful Clearing campaign, and news that Aberystwyth is within the top Universities for "the best first impression", this action attempts to hit the core business of the University. This is a potential threat to the University's future sustainability, and aims create concern for new students, who may be away from home for the first time, and their families.

– Aberystwyth University spokesperson

Aberystwyth University staff begin four days of strike action

Four consecutive days of strike action by Aberystwyth University staff over pensions gets underway today.

Staff will strike for four days over pension cuts. Credit: ITV Wales News

Workers from UNISON Cymru/Wales, Unite, UCU and Prospect will be taking part in industrial action, with a march and rally taking place on Saturday.

Union members say strike action has been timed to coincide with the start of the new academic year and the arrival of new students to the University.

It is a crucial time of year for the University, who will be hoping to make a good impression on new students as they arrive to begin their academic career.

All the unions thought long and hard before deciding to take strike action at the beginning of the new term. The University relies on student fees to fund its activity. If Aberystwyth gets a bad reputation, it will damage the University.

Our members want to see the University thrive, to be a fantastic place to study, but we cannot accept that this should be done on the back of massive cuts to our members pensions.

– Simon Dunn, UNISON regional organiser

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Latest employment figures to be released

There's been a trend of falling unemployment in Wales. Credit: PA

New employment figures for Wales are to be released later today.

Last month unemployment across the country fell, with 25,000 fewer people out of work compared to a year ago.

However, the figures also indicated that almost 100,000 people in Wales are still without a job.

Funding cuts to halve apprenticeships opportunities

The cuts will result in 49 per cent fewer apprentices in Wales in the next year. Credit: PA

Cuts to the Welsh Government's flagship apprenticeship programme will halve the number of apprentices across the country in the next year, according to the National Training Federation for Wales.

A study carried out by the organisation also revealed that £10.7 million has been cut from next year's apprenticeship budget and that there has been a 32 per cent drop in opportunities for learners aged 16-24.

We have been open about the scale of the financial challenges we face. By 2015-16, the Welsh budget will be 10% lower in real terms than it was in 2010-11.

However reductions in the funding for Apprenticeships are not across the board. We will direct our funding towards Apprenticeships for those aged 16-24 as well as to Higher Level Apprenticeships and Traineeships.

We will continue to do all we can to provide opportunities for young people via our Apprenticeship Matching Service and via our network of Training Providers.

We will also continue to encourage our employers to invest in apprenticeships as part of their own workforce development plans

– Welsh Government spokesperson

Employment outlook for Wales falls slightly

Fewer employers say they plan on increasing their workforces. Credit: PA

The outlook for more jobs in Wales has dipped slightly, according to research by the recruitment consultant agency, Manpower. It found that fewer employers across the country say they plan on increasing their workforces in the coming months.

It also found that despite the fall in employment outlook, employers do seem to have more confidence in the economy with an increase in the number of permanent staff jobs and full-time roles on offer.

The outlook for Wales may have dipped slightly this quarter, but there are still plenty of opportunities out there, especially when it comes to full-time employment.

We've seen an increase in the number of permanent vacancies and there are more full-time jobs out there than part-time, which suggests to us that employers are starting to feel more confident.

– Andrew Shellard, Operations Manager for Wales, Manpower UK

Unemployment down by 3,000 over past three months

The number of unemployed people in Wales has fallen. Credit: Rui Viera/PA

The number of unemployed people in Wales has fallen from 100,000 to 97,000 between April and June according to the latest figures.

The Office for National Statistics data says the number of people not in work has fallen by 25,000 compared to the same period in 2013.

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Latest unemployment figures for Wales due out

Unemployment figures are due out later this morning Credit: PA

The latest unemployment figures for Wales will be released later.

Last month youth unemployment numbers showed a reduction of nearly 10 per cent over the past year in the level of 16-17 year olds out of work.

In July, the inactivity rate in Great Britain was highest in Wales (25.7 per cent) and lowest in the East of England (19.3 per cent.)

'Very difficult' to discuss mental health in workplace

Paul Booth is a successful businessman. He also has bipolar disorder and now campaigns for an overhaul in workplace mental health.

A lot of people who didn't have a diagnosed condition would come to me and say, 'you're so brave. I've got a condition but I don't tell anybody because I know it would kill my career'. That was mentioned to me numerous times.

In South Africa, as long as it was out in the open, it was like there was no elephant in the room, nothing waiting to come out. It would be very difficult to be that open about my condition in the UK. I think I would struggle to get a job, to be honest.

– Paul Booth

Workers 'fear disclosing mental health conditions'

More than three-quarters of those surveyed said they would be worried to raise a mental health issue at work. Credit: David Cheskin/PA Wire

More than three-quarters of people in Wales would worry about disclosing a mental health condition at work, according to a new survey.

Research from the Priory Group found that people would be reluctant to mention a condition for fear of a negative reaction from their employer.

It believes more than 130,000 people in Wales diagnosed with a mental health condition may be suffering in silence.

There's a huge amount of stigma out there, especially in the workplace. I've had numerous cases where people have been sacked because of their depression; they've been discriminated against because of a mental illness.

I think the big thing is the impact of stigma. People generally say that the stigma of having a diagnosed mental illness can be as bad as the symptoms that they actually experience.

– Dr Richard Bowskill, Priory Group Consultant Psychiatrist