With the ballot opening this Friday (16 February) to decide the leader of the Welsh Labour party and the role of First Minister, the two Welsh Labour leadership candidates are stepping up the campaigning, with manifestos and pledges in place to secure their votes for the top spot.
Both candidates, Vaughan Gething MS and Jeremy Miles MS, express a strong desire to make Wales an attractive country not just for external investors, but for the population too. They want Wales to become a place where businesses want to start and grow, and where the population want to live, work, and retire to.
Some key points from both candidates’ manifestos that businesses need to know about are:
To make Wales a desirable place to work, Vaughan Gething aims to make Wales a hub for creating and providing high skill and high paying jobs. To do this, his government would review the planning system to increase efficiency and certainty in decision making when it comes to projects that will bring good jobs to Wales, in line with British Chamber of Commerce recommendations. He aims to nurture the everyday economy in order to support local businesses and build stronger community wealth, not only making Wales a desirable place for investors, but also for the communities that are already here.
To empower workers and creating a thriving job sector, Gething aims to promote accessibility through union initiatives to encourage remote and flexible working, introduce a living wage for agricultural workers and create a fair work milestone.
Gething pledges in his manifesto to provide flexible and timely reskilling opportunities at any time of life to empower society while also positioning Wales in the best place to tackle oncoming challenges such as the climate emergency and adapting to AI and automation. To promote the skills of our population, reinvesting in apprenticeships would become a priority and his government would increase the scope of industries offering apprenticeships to meet the demand for highly skilled jobs. This will be achieved by working with local authorities, businesses and further education institutions to develop regional sectoral skill centres for excellence.
Jeremy Miles wants to make Wales an attractive place to live, work and retire and one of his main priorities is to grow the economy sustainably and increase Wales’ prosperity. To achieve this, he aims to encourage successful medium sized firms to stay rooted in their communities, help businesses navigate the regulatory environment to support compliance, introduce a campaign to attract talent to Wales and bring Welsh diaspora home, explore new financial incentives for graduates to set up businesses and work in Wales, and strengthen the high streets to generate vital footfall for smaller retail businesses.
Miles aims to promote the Welsh economy to investors by nurturing sector clusters and local supply chains, and strengthening infrastructure to make Wales the most attractive place in the UK to invest. Widespread innovation and increased productivity are essential to achieve this.
To further empower the business community, Miles aims to strengthen the Welsh workforce by focusing on net zero, digital skills development and good workplace relations. His government would support Welsh businesses in adapting and pursuing new innovations, encouraging innovation led by employees, and creating a strategy for skills and training that is aligned to the government’s economic strategy.
Miles is passionate about promoting fair work and equality in the workplace through encouraging flexibility, expanding Personal Learning Accounts for reskilling at work and appointing a minister for work within the Welsh Government to embed fair work practices.
Paul Butterworth, CEO of Chambers Wales South East, South West and Mid, said:
“Both candidates present excellent ideas for improving the future of Welsh business and we welcome the focus on developing the Welsh economy. A focus on regular reskilling and increasing accessibility for apprenticeship opportunities should help empower and lift our growing talent within Wales.
“It is promising to see that both Vaughan Gething and Jeremy Miles are passionate about making Wales desirable to investors from across the world, as well as focused on making positive improvements for Welsh communities. Empowering our local workforce will set Wales up in the best position possible to encourage businesses to not only relocate to Wales, but choose Wales as a destination for their start-up location and therefore bring tremendous economic benefits to our region.”