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Carwyn Jones joins Business News Wales

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THE INDEPENDENT business to business news platform, Business News Wales, has appointed former First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones in a strategic move to boost its senior advisory team.
Launched in 2015, Business News Wales has become a trusted source of business to business online news across all sectors and regions of Wales, providing an independent forum for owners, organisations and business support functions to share content and learn about business activities across Wales. Managing director, Mark Powney, who has more than two decades experience with using editorial and promoted content marketing to help businesses reach their audiences, explained why he was excited to welcome Mr Jones to the business.

He said: “Carwyn has achieved a great deal as an Assembly Member, Cabinet Member and First Minister of Wales.
“His focus is to help us engage more effectively with the business community and to strengthen our ability to act as Wales’ leading independent source of business news, information and insight.”

The business is about to embark on a major regional and industry scale up and Carwyn will naturally be a great addition to the team.”
Business News Wales combines non-political editorial news content and insight with a range of opportunities for businesses to raise their profile through promoted content, video and podcasts, and advertising. The portal also publishes a daily newsletter to more than 20,000 subscribers.

Carwyn Jones spoke of his new role, saying: “What attracted me to Business News Wales was the ambitious growth plan that exists within the company. I think there are some great opportunities and a gap in the market for the dissemination of business news across Wales. There are lots of businesses that want to know what is happening in their area, within their own industry and across the country as a whole. Business News Wales is a great channel to meet those needs.

“My role is to help further embed Business News Wales as the go-to company for business information and news across Wales. One of the problems we have had historically is that people get their information from sources outside of Wales. The more connected we are the more connected business are the more efficient will be the functioning of the economy.
If you’re an investor in Wales, it is essential that you have solid information about what Wales can offer and indeed already offers, and Business News Wales is sharing those business insights at a sectorial and regional level.”

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Business

WG to exceed apprentice target

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Ken Skates: Apprentices make a significant contribution to economy

THE WELSH GOVERNMENT is on course to exceed its target of providing 100,000 all-age, high-quality apprenticeships across Wales during this Assembly term, Economy Minister Ken Skates has said at the beginning of Apprenticeship Week.
Since the target was introduced, more than 74,000 individuals have embarked on an apprenticeship allowing them to learn whilst earning a wage and boost their career prospects.
Apprenticeship Week 2020 is a week-long celebration of the hard work and dedication of apprentices as well as the support and commitment shown by their employers. Events are taking place across Wales to mark the occasion.
The Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship Skills policy is aimed at aligning apprenticeships to meet the needs for a flourishing Welsh economy so Wales can compete globally with a highly skilled workforce.
The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.
Speaking as Apprenticeship Week gets underway, Economy Minister Ken Skates said: “In my role, I have met apprentices in all parts of Wales and it’s fantastic to see how they have grasped the opportunity to learn new skills, develop their knowledge and build confidence.
“It’s clear that apprenticeships make a significant contribution to the Welsh economy and drive our vision for a prosperous Wales.
“As a government, we are committed to seeing our workforce grow and our investment in apprenticeships is a great example of that.
“I want to see Wales lead the way and be a prime example to nations around the globe of how investing in apprenticeships can reap major benefits.
“With unemployment in Wales at a record low and our manifesto target of creating 100,000 apprenticeships in this assembly set to be exceeded, the Welsh Government can be rightly proud of the actions we’re taking to supercharge our economy.
“Apprenticeship Week offers us a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the tangible and very real difference apprentices and their employers make.
“Our ‘make a genius decision’ apprenticeship campaign is also playing a key role in encouraging businesses to recruit an apprentice and realise the positive difference they can make to the workplace.”
Mohammad Asghar AM/AC, the Shadow Minister for Further Education said: “Apprenticeships offer a different education and career path for many people, and such opportunities expand and enhance the range of provision available – and across the age range.
“Gone are the days when an apprenticeship was solely for young school leavers. The most recent figures from StatsWales indicate nearly 59,000 apprentices, ranging in age from the under-16s to later-life learners of over 65.”
Mr Asghar added that it is not only the age range that so impresses him, but also the breadth of the courses offered.
He continued: “We see also a very large range – from the agricultural sector to media, and from engineering to business – of industries covered. It is interesting to note, too, is that around 60 percent of all apprentices in Wales are female.
“I, and my Welsh Conservative colleagues, strongly believe that apprenticeships offer in many cases what a degree cannot, and that is the ability to ‘earn as you learn’, and this is one of the reasons why we back apprenticeships, and National Apprenticeship Week 2020.”

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Business

Welsh businesses increase in number

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Philip Winterborne: Chair of Wales' insolvency and restructuring body, R3

THE NUMBER of active businesses in Wales rose by over 4,400 between January 2019 and January 2020, according to new figures from the Welsh branch of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3.
There were over 110,000 active companies registered in Wales in January of this year, compared to just under 106,000 12 months ago – a rise of 4.2%. The growth in active business numbers across 2019 was around two and a half times higher than the increase seen over 2018, with the number of active Welsh-headquartered businesses growing by around 1,800 (equivalent to 1.7%) between January 2018 and January 2019.
Wales’s growth in active company numbers in 2019 was slightly higher than the rate for the UK as a whole (3.8%), and Wales is currently home to around 3% of all active companies registered in the UK. Of all 12 UK regions, London has by far the highest percentage of registered company headquarters, with 25.3% of the total.
Commenting on the research, R3 Wales’s Chair Philip Winterborne, a partner at Temple Bright solicitors, said: “It’s really encouraging that, against a backdrop of subdued economic growth and considerable uncertainty, the net increase in Wales-based businesses has been so strong across 2019.
“The fact that 2019 saw two and a half times as many new businesses created as 2018 is also heartening, while all the newly-created companies should give a boost to the Welsh economy as we prepare for a year of significant change.
“Launching a new venture is always nerve-wracking, and everyone who takes the plunge should be applauded for their initiative. In many cases, entrepreneurs take out loans with personal guarantees attached – this is something we are seeing more and more, and anyone in this position should be alive to the consequent risks to their own financial standing if business isn’t as good as anticipated.
“New businesses are often less robust than more established ones, for obvious reasons, and it takes a lot to make a venture a success. If a company hits a bump in the road, unbiased third-party advice from a qualified and accredited business expert, such as an insolvency practitioner, can be a crucial ingredient in averting more trouble. The sooner directors seek help, the more options they have for turnaround and subsequent success.”
The figures are compiled by R3 using Bureau van Dijk’s ‘Fame’ database of UK companies.

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Migrant salary threshold lowered

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£30,000 salary threshold: Government committee recommends reduction

THE GOVERNMENT’s Migration Advisory Committee recommended lowering the minimum salary threshold for migrant workers to the UK to £25,600 in a report presented to the Home Secretary last week.
However, despite the report’s authors acknowledging the large regional variation in average salaries, it does not recommend any adjustments for lower-paid areas.
That decision potentially has interlocking effects. Firstly, in higher-paid urban areas in the south of England migrant labour will be cheaper than elsewhere. Secondly, skills shortages in sectors in which migrants work are likely to increase in the English regions and devolved countries where wages are on average lower than £25,600. The Committee said temporary workers should be admitted where shortages would adversely affect the economy.
Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said: “The recommendation to lower the proposed minimum salary threshold to £25,600 is a welcome, pro-business proposal, which would widen the scope for employing those beyond highly-paid professions.
“It is vital that the workers and skills needed for the UK’s economy to grow are not locked out by a future immigration system which is unresponsive to business needs.
“One in five small employers in the UK have at least one staff member from the EU.
“FSB research shows that four-in-five small employers that hire staff into jobs classed as mid-skilled do so into roles with salaries less than £30,000. This includes positions in sectors such as engineering and IT.
“The recommendation for a route to the UK without a job offer is also positive, but this must be open to mid-skilled workers and not restricted to highly-paid professionals. It should allow for smaller businesses across all regions, nations and sectors to recruit the people with the skills they need.
“It is pleasing to see that the committee has listened to FSB’s arguments for a salary threshold below £30,000, as well as an unsponsored route, which selects migrants based on their personal characteristics and allows for regional variation.
“The challenge now for the government will be to have a new, employer-responsive immigration system in place in time for the end of the transition period eleven months from now, and allowing sufficient time for small business employers to prepare. FSB looks forward to working with the government on this.”

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