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Finance 'more affordable' for small firms

A fifth of Welsh firms report improvements. Credit: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire/PA Images

Small businesses in Wales are finding finance more affordable and easier to access.

That's according to the Federation of Small Businesses which also says the share of firms reporting credit availability is good, or very good, is well ahead of the position this time last year.

But, it says, despite that half of those questioned still consider availability is poor.

'Growing' recruitment pressures for Welsh businesses

The South Wales Chamber of Commerce's latest Quarterly Economic Survey reveals business across the country are "moving into Spring with increasing confidence."

However, Graham Morgan, the Director at the South Wales Chamber of Commerce, believes more can be done to ensure Wales does not lag behind the rest of the UK in terms of exports.

While export sales and orders in Wales remain at a similar level to Q4 of 2013, it appears that Wales is not benefitting from the same progress in international markets as other Chambers are reporting throughout the UK. There are many Welsh businesses with excellent products and services and is vital that they are aware of the support available to help them increase their international footprint.

If the professional sector can help highlight the support available to businesses looking to begin or grow exporting services, in both a financial and advisory capacity, then Wales can start to become a big player on the world stage.

Despite many looking to recruit over the coming months, businesses are reporting growing pressures in recruiting for certain roles.

Engineering and ICT skills are, as always, in short supply, but we are also having reports of gaps in middle management and marketing as well.

With access to super fast broadband and better digital connectivity, we anticipate that ICT and social media skills will be of even greater importance over the next year.

Ninety-eight percent of businesses surveyed increased or maintained their levels of investment in staff training and equipment, which is another indicator of their confidence.

With the highest ever response to our survey, including input now from businesses in north Wales, we feel confident in the growth opportunities that lie ahead for Welsh businesses.

– Graham Morgan, Director, South Wales Chamber of Commerce


Survey reveals 'steady Welsh business growth'

Welsh businesses that trade internationally have continued to perform solidly Credit: PA

The latest quarterly survey from South Wales Chamber of Commerce shows businesses in Wales are showing steady signs of growth.

Welsh businesses that trade internationally have continued to perform solidly, with 85 per cent reporting that sales and orders have either remained consistent or increased.

The Quarterly Economic Survey acts as a barometer for the strength of the Welsh economy, and, for the first time, includes results from across the whole of Wales, with the inclusion of businesses from north Wales.

The survey for the first quarter of 2014 shows that more than half (61 per cent) of small and medium-sized businesses from across Wales are expecting to increase their profitability during the next 12 months, with 28.7 per cent expecting to maintain their current profit levels.

The survey also reveals that 95 per cent of businesses are looking to either retain their existing workforce or recruit in the next three months, the highest figure in the last seven years and one that is consistent across Wales.

Despite this, more than half of businesses (53 per cent) revealed that they had experienced difficulties in recruiting during the last quarter.

Could dot-cymru replace dot-com in Wales?

A mobile that predicts Welsh text messages. Credit: PA

A report published today by the Welsh Government recommends 27 ways that Welsh can boost business.

The report examined how the use of the language and bilingualism could support business growth and economic development and how economic development could raise the use of Welsh.

Among it's recommendations are that businesses be encouraged to use the “.cymru” internet domain suffix if the opportunity arises.

It also says an on-line networks in Welsh could maintain contact with Welsh speakers who leave Wales to study or for work and these networks will encourage experienced Welsh speakers to return to Wales.

Wales should also learn from the experience and good practice in other bilingual communities such as the Basque country, Quebec, and Catalunya says the working group who compiled the report.

Research should be also be undertaken to examine the effect of improving road and rail communications between strong Welsh speaking areas and main employment centres and public sector contracts should require tenderers to demonstrate an ability to provide a bilingual service.

Poor ratings for Welsh Government's performance

The latest Wales Barometer poll asked people if they thought the Welsh Government is doing a good or bad job in three of the main policy areas for which it has responsibility. The figures show that there is widespread disappointment with its performance.

  • Is the Welsh Government doing a good or bad job with the NHS?
  • Good 25%
  • Bad 43%
  • Neither/Don't know 32%
  • Is the Welsh Government doing a good or bad job with schools?
  • Good 24%
  • Bad 39%
  • Neither/DK 37%
  • Is the Welsh Government doing a good or bad job with the economy?
  • Good 25%
  • Bad 31%
  • Neither/DK 44%

The performance of the Welsh Government has been heavily criticised by Labour’s opponents. To see whether such criticisms have had much resonance with the public we asked respondents to evaluate the Welsh Government’s record since the last Assembly election in 2011 in three key policy areas. The results will not make pleasant reading for Carwyn Jones and his team.

– Professor Roger Scully, Wales Governance Centre

Since the 2011 Assembly election, Labour has governed alone after winning exactly half the seats in the Senedd. Labour supporters were somewhat more positive about government performance.

  • Is the Welsh Government doing a good or bad job with the NHS?
  • Good 37%
  • Bad 31%
  • Neither/Don't know 31%
  • Is the Welsh Government doing a good or bad job with schools?
  • Good 36%
  • Bad 26%
  • Neither/DK 39%
  • Is the Welsh Government doing a good or bad job with the economy?
  • Good 41%
  • Bad 20%
  • Neither/DK 39%

What will surely frustrate Labour’s opponents in Wales is the apparent lack of connection between voters’ assessments of Labour’s record in government in Wales and their current voting intentions. Not many people seem to think that Labour have done a good job in government in Wales, yet many Welsh people still intend to vote Labour.

– Professor Roger Scully, Wales Governance Centre

Nearly 18,000 construction jobs could be created in Wales over the next five years

Nearly 18,000 jobs are set to be created in the Welsh construction industry over the next five years, according to figures released today.

The Construction Industry Training Board says the Welsh Government's help to buy scheme - plus proposed major infrastructure projects - are fuelling growth in the sector.

Ian Lang reports.


Housing firm looking forward to 'a positive time'

House building firm Redrow say they are looking forward to a more positive outlook as consumer confidence returns and the housing market emerges from a very challenging economic period.

At Redrow we believe training holds the key to maintaining a skilled workforce for years to come. Last year we took on more than 40 new apprentices in Wales and England, taking our total number to 80 plus, along with a number of graduates, undergraduates and sales and technical trainees. In fact, 14% of all our employees have official trainee status and we continue to offer varied vocational training schemes for all staff.

– Karen Jones, HR director for Flintshire-based Redrow Homes

The right skills "vital" to securing Wales' growth

The key to Wales' growth is to ensure that people have the right skills to deliver major projects, according to the Welsh Government.

Having the right intelligence on the demand for skills is critical to informing how we work with businesses to support their training needs. It is fundamental to our planning process and in giving the insight as to where industries like construction are going and what their future needs and priorities look like.

Making sure people have the right skills to deliver major construction projects is vital if we are going to create a strong Welsh economy. This alignment with the needs of employers is a central theme of our Policy Statement on Skills, which we'll be launching this week.

– Ken Skates AM, Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology

Growth must be "sustinable and secure" say CITB

Welsh Government investment coupled with the Help to Buy scheme, which is expected to boost demand for homes across Wales, are anticipated to help increase the strength of Wales's construction industry.

But while the research paints a generally positive outlook, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) says safeguards must be put in place to ensure that any growth is 'secure and sustained'.

Employment levels in 2018 are still forecast to be below pre-recession levels, so we need to ensure that measures are put in place now to secure sustained growth in the long-term.

We need committed and targeted investment in infrastructure projects in Wales, such as the nuclear power station in Wylfa, as well as innovative measures, such as the Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan (WIIP) and community benefits, which are helping to maximise growth opportunities.

Our close working with the Welsh Government, employers and training providers to ensure initiatives are developed to meet the skills needs of the existing Welsh construction industry is further helping to develop the pipeline of skills.

– Wyn Prichard, CITB Wales Director

Infrastructure to drive Welsh construction industry

Infrastructure is expected to drive growth in the construction industry Credit: PA

Growth in Wales's construction industry is expected to be fuelled by the anticipated start of build work at the Wylfa nuclear power station in Anglesey.

It's thought infrastructure in Wales will be the chief driver of growth.

The private housing sector is set to be the second largest driver of growth in Wales, with key projects including the £1.2bn Coed Darcy development and the £75m regeneration works in Merthyr, Tydfil and Swansea expected to significantly boost employment and output prospects.

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