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Unemployment in Wales falls by 7,000, figures show

Unemployment in Wales has fallen by 7,000 in the three months to October and now stands at 7.4 per cent. That compares to a rate of 8 per cent in the three months to July.

The latest jobs figures also show that the level of employment rose by 1.5 per cent between the two quarters, the largest increase in the UK. The UK average level of employment rose by 0.4 per cent.

Consultation begins on Sharp solar panel jobs

Workers at the Sharp site in Llay near Wrexham have begun a consultation as 250 permanent jobs are set to go. The announcement was made yesterday as the company looks to cut back its solar panel operation.

There was more bad news for the town today though, as confirmation that a further two hundred and thirty posts would be going from the First Milk factory on the outskirts of Wrexham. Rob Shelley reports.

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Talks set at Sharp in Wrexham

'Bitter pill for staff to swallow so close to Christmas' - Unite. Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

The Unite Union will today start consultations with electronics giants Sharp after the firm's announcement it'll stop making solar panels at its factory in Wrexham.

Bosses have blamed "unavoidable market conditions" for their decision.

Two hundred and fifty posts will be shed. It also won't renew around 350 agency workers' contracts.

Microwave ovens will still be made there.

Sharp job losses 'very worrying' says economy minister

Economy Minister Edwina Hart says the announcement of job losses at Sharp's Wrexham factory is "very worrying" so close to Christmas.

This announcement is obviously very worrying news for the company's employees and their families, especially coming just a week before Christmas.

Severe competition in the UK and European solar markets, combined with wider financial pressures have force the company to take this difficult decision at this time. Sharp has stated its current solar operation in Wrexham is unsustainable but has told us they will be investigating additional products for development at the site.

Welsh Government officials will be exploring all potential options to support the site and in the meantime we and our partners will do all we can to support those who are facing redundancy.

– Edwina Hart AM, Economy Minister

Sharp job losses part of 'structural reforms'

In a statement, Sharp said the planned closure will take place by the end of February and will result in up to 250 redundancies. It said the decision was part of "structural reforms" and maintaining capacity of Wrexham's solar production was "unsustainable."

It is with sincere regret that we have decided to end solar panel production in Wrexham. Our employees are our greatest asset, and we have been fortunate to have a loyal, hardworking and committed workforce since we began solar production here in 2004.

The Wrexham facility will continue to produce microwave ovens, and we will be investigating additional products for development.

Sharp will continue its solar sales business in Europe, expanding our customer base, as we move towards a true energy solutions business that draws on our expertise in related areas, including energy storage and management systems.Market conditions in Europe have become increasingly severe over the past 18 months. A 30% drop in the unit price of European solar panels since the beginning of 2012 has left Wrexham's output uncompetitive here in the UK, and in Europe.

– Hiroshi Sasaoka, Sharp CEO for Europe

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£30bn Airbus order secures Broughton jobs

Emirates and Etihad Airways have ordered 50 new A350 planes and 36 A320neos Credit: Airbus

Thousands of workers at the Airbus site in Broughton in North Wales have been given job security after the plane manufacturer secured deals worth more than £30 billion at the Dubai airshow.

The Dubai airline Emirates has ordered 50 Airbus A380 superjumbos and UAE airline, Etihad Airways want 50 A350 planes as well as 36 A320neos. The Broughton site produce the wings for all the aircraft.

UK Govt: 'big improvement' in Work Programme

The UK Government says there has been "a really big improvement in performance" from its Work Programme, but Employment Minister Esther McVey will meet her counterpart at the Welsh Government soon, to "ensure jobseekers in Wales have access to the same range of help available to those in England."

There has been a really big improvement in performance from when the Work Programme began in 2011 and we are committed to making sure providers in Wales continue to improve the service they give to jobseekers.

Providers get paid on the results they achieve, so it's in everyone's interest to help as many people into work as possible.

I will soon be meeting with Ken Skates, Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology from the Welsh Government - I want us to work together to ensure jobseekers in Wales have access to the same range of help available to those in England.

– Esther McVey MP, Minister for Employment

MPs: 'Lack of flexibility' behind work scheme problems

The Welsh Affairs Committee chair, Monmouth MP David Davies, says a "lack of flexibility" and the creation of "artificial barriers" between different programmes set up to get people into work are to blame for a lack of success.

The key issue here seems to be that there is a lack of flexibility in and between the various programmes set up to get people into work, and that this lack of flexibility appears to be more marked in Wales.

It is obviously a matter of concern to us that the success rates in Wales are the lowest in Great Britain.

The Work programme is designed to help particularly people facing multiple barriers to entering or re-entering the workplace, people who have been already out of work for two years.

The last thing we need in this situation is bureaucracy getting in the way of people simply being able to do what is most effective.

The fact that different programmes are funded differently or run by different organisations should not be "visible" or create barriers at the point of delivery.

The point is to get people in to work, for all the benefits that brings both to them and to the public purse.

That must be the sole focus and these artificial barriers must be removed.

– David Davies MP, Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee

1 in 9 people on Work Programme found sustained work

Only one in nine people in Wales who joined the UK Government's Work Programme scheme in its first two years found sustained employment.

  • 69,960 people in Wales were referred by Jobcentre Plus onto the Work Programme during its first 25 months
  • 7,550 people completed 13 or 26 weeks of sustained employment - the Government's targets
  • That is a rate of 10.8 per cent - the lowest in Britain
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