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‘We cannot promote Wales from behind a desk’, says First Minister

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Promoting Wales: Carwyn Jones

Promoting Wales: Carwyn Jones

FIRST MINISTER OF WALES Carwyn Jones has this week launched Wales in the World, the Welsh Government’s international agenda.

The document sets the steps the Welsh Government is taking to ensure Wales has a strong global presence.

Globalisation presents challenges and opportunities for Wales. Some industries have moved production to countries with lower production costs. Equally, faster communications and lowering trade barriers allow Wales to build links with countries and do business further afield than ever before.

The Welsh Government is eager to show they are committed to help Welsh businesses develop abroad as well as at home. Where Welsh companies want to grow through exports, they want to help them reach the international marketplace. Every year the Welsh Government organises trade missions and helps companies attend major commercial conferences overseas. Welsh brands are increasingly visible overseas, especially for high-end goods.

Foreign direct investment is crucial to the Welsh economy. The international business environment has become increasingly competitive. Devolved control over economic development levers and a physical presence in key markets allow us to respond quickly to opportunities and to establish relationships that produce results for Wales. There have been a record number of investments by overseas companies in recent years.

Tourism is a major and growing business and the Welsh offer is increasingly competitive with the best in Europe. Wales is a compelling place to visit, study, invest and do business and Carwyn Jones wants to take this message around the world.

Wales is known for its culture and this platform helps support overseas trade and investment efforts. Collaborations help Welsh artists reach an international audience as well as bring international cultural events to Wales.

Wales’ higher and further education institutions benefit from substantial investment by overseas students. In turn they contribute to the local economy and visitor travel arising from this boosts the Welsh tourist market. Education sectors play a crucial role in promoting Wales’ international interests, showcasing best practice, research and innovation.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “I’ve always said we cannot promote Wales from behind a desk. The global market is crowded, competitive and aggressive. We need to be out there working for Wales, fighting for every job and encouraging others to do the same. I’m fiercely proud of this country and I’ve travelled the globe, raising the flag for Wales in support of Welsh imports and exports. The International Agenda, that I’m publishing today, outlines how we are making sure that the world knows Wales is open for business, while re-affirming our commitment to the European Union. Reaching out and building relationships with the world is hugely important to us and I am committed to the task of raising our profile overseas. This new document is testament to that.”

For anyone who would like to read the document in full it can be found online at: http://gov.wales/ docs/caecd/publications/150708- wales-in-world-en.pdf

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Seafish 2024 fishing fleet survey heading to Wales

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FISHING vessel owners and skippers encouraged to join the annual survey of the UK fishing fleet from Monday 15 July

Seafish researchers will again be heading to harbours and ports around the UK this summer.

From July 15, Seafish, the public body that supports the UK seafood industry, will be conducting its fishing fleet survey to learn about the financial performance of fishing businesses and the demographics of their crew.

In Wales, the survey is scheduled to be hosted by Seafish fleet researchers Badis Khiari, Zachary Wong and Emma Kearns.

The process also gives vessel owners and skippers the opportunity to share details on how their business has fared in the last 12 months.

Seafish is encouraging all vessel owners and skippers to participate in the survey, as their input is instrumental in ensuring the fishing industry in the UK is moving in the right direction. The interviews take no longer than 15 minutes to complete and all responses are treated as strictly confidential, with no figures from any individual vessel revealed elsewhere.

This year researchers will be handing out a free First Aid at Sea Guide for every skipper or vessel owner that participates.

Juan Carlos Paredes Esclapez, Economics Project Manager at Seafish said: “Our fleet survey is an essential tool for monitoring the performance of our fishing industry. By taking part in this survey, vessel owners and skippers can help create an understanding of the challenges they face as well as new opportunities.

We encourage as many fishing businesses and vessel owners as possible to get involved in this year’s survey. The data collected is crucial for guiding policymakers, industry stakeholders, and businesses, ensuring the sector is prepared to tackle future challenges effectively”.

Fishing businesses who take part in the fleet survey can request a free benchmark report which compares their vessel’s economic performance to similar vessels and can help identify areas for improvements. It can also be used as evidence in grant or loan applications.

During last year’s fleet survey, many fishing vessel owners responded to the survey. Seafish’s Economics of the UK Fishing Fleet report for 2023 will be published later in the year, but initial findings show:

  • On business performance over the previous 12 months, 24% rated it poor or below average. 41% rated it average and 35% rated it above average or excellent.
  • On the outlook for business over the next 3-5 years, 17% rated it bad or very bad, while 37% rated it good or very good. Most people (46%) were neutral or unsure about their future performance.
  • The most mentioned factors to recent performance were abundance of catch (36% of respondents), operating costs (30%), the price of catch (25%) and access to labour (20%). Abundance and price of catch were seen as positive influences by most respondents, while operating costs and access to labour were seen as negative.

Labour continues to be a pressing issue for the UK fleet and the 2023 survey included a specific question on access to skilled labour, including UK and foreign crew.

Nearly half of respondents reported that this issue did not apply to them as they were single-handed vessels but among the remaining 201 people interviewed, 71% rated their access to skilled labour as bad or very bad. A tenth of respondents reported being negatively affected by changes to the transit visa regulations.

In general, 2023 findings suggest a slight improvement in vessel owners’ and skippers’ moods about their business performance.

How to get involved:

The schedule of when researchers are visiting areas across the UK is available on the Seafish website at www.seafish.org/fleetsurvey. Vessel owners can look out for researchers in ports and harbours across the summer.

Those who want to pre-arrange an appointment to take part in the surveys can email [email protected] If you have questions about the survey or enquiries about how industry estimates could be used to support your business, please contact the fleet survey team on [email protected] or 07966 764150.

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The King celebrates tech giant Sony’s 50th year in Wales

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SONY UK TEC welcomed The King to its state-of-the-art facility in Pencoed to mark 30 years at the site and its 50th anniversary in Wales.

His Majesty was welcomed by the site’s Managing Director, Rob Wilson, as well as key representatives from Sony including President and CEO of Sony Corporation, Kimio Maki; Senior Executive Vice President of Sony Group Corporation, Kazushi Ambe; President of Sony Europe B.V., Masashi Takiguchi and Aki Matsuzawa, CFO of Sony Europe B.V.

As the longest-standing Japanese manufacturer in Wales, the visit marked five decades of Sony in Wales, after The King, as the Prince of Wales, played an instrumental role in encouraging the global company to invest in Wales in the early 1970s, going on to officially open the company’s first site in Bridgend in 1974.

During his visit to the site, His Majesty was taken on a tour of the 20,000 m2 state-of-the art facility and shown how the site’s commitment to innovation, community and excellence in manufacturing and technology has developed in the 50 years it has been present in Wales.

He met some of the site’s 600-strong team and was shown its world-renowned manufacturing processes and third-party manufacturing businesses.,

His Majesty also completed the 30,000th High-Definition Camera unit produced by the site, celebrating yet another proud milestone for Sony and Welsh manufacturing.

The Sony journey in Wales began in 1974 in Bridgend. The site commenced manufacturing Colour Televisions, inspired by conversations between His Majesty and Co-Founder of Sony, Akio Morita (KBE) during a visit to Japan.

In 1993, Sony Pencoed was opened by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and it now produces professional Sony HD and 4K broadcast equipment for customers worldwide.

Repatriating Raspberry Pi manufacturing in 2012 invigorated the local economy and generated hundreds of job opportunities. To date, the facility has produced 50 million Raspberry Pi units and currently serves several other third-party clients with its contract manufacturing capabilities. 

Over the decades, Sony UK TEC has grown and adapted to the dynamic manufacturing and technology landscape, evolving into a hub for cutting-edge manufacturing. The site has won numerous prestigious awards, including several Queen’s Awards for Export and Environment, Britain’s Best Factory Award, two national Make UK awards for Developing Future Talent and Innovation, and most recently, the Green Dragon Environmental Standard Level 5 Award.

Through the Sony Wales Academy, launched onsite in 2014, the company integrates apprentices, graduates, and learners into its workforce while engaging thousands of pupils through its school visit programme. These initiatives have successfully integrated 55 Higher Apprentices and 36 Graduates and supported 56 Sony learners in their pursuit of higher education. Its school visit programme has captivated over 31,000 primary and secondary students to date.

Notably, all procured electricity is green and renewable. Additionally, its on-site environmental centre hosts nine colonies of honeybees, with volunteer staff trained in beekeeping by Bridgend Beekeepers. Honey produced by the hives is sold in the staff restaurant, with proceeds donated to local charities.

The King’s visit to Sony UK TEC to celebrate its significant 50 and 30-year milestones is just one of the company’s celebrations during its anniversary year. Other celebrations include its annual long service awards, recognising team players who have accumulated over 1,100 years of dedicated service, a team-building day for its 600 staff where they collaboratively created a commemorative 50/30 piece to display onsite, and a family day for employees paying homage to the site’s Welsh and Japanese heritage.

Managing Director of Sony UK TEC, Rob Wilson commented told Herald.Wales: “We are now in our 50th year of Sony in Wales. It is a true honour and a privilege to have The King on site to join in with our celebrations, having played such an instrumental role in our journey. We are also honoured to welcome esteemed members of the Sony global leadership team for this special event.

“I am incredibly proud of our achievements, which are a testament to the dedication and hard work of our exceptional team. Our journey has been one of innovation and collaboration, supported by the wider Sony family. Having been with the company since 1989, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the remarkable growth and transformation of our Pencoed facility. While we celebrate our milestones, we remain committed to reaching new heights and are deeply grateful for the unwavering support of our customers, partners, and suppliers.”

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Business

Why Quality Construction Tools and Equipment Matter

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As the construction industry continues to rally in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, more and more firms are starting to crop up – from smaller domestic renovating crews to larger-scale commercial-construction heavyweights. Though there is a lot separating different contracting teams and construction companies, there are some key fundaments that they all share, and some key truths for them to bear in mind.

One such truth relates to the importance of quality equipment in the carrying-out of a given project. Whether extending a kitchen or raising a high-rise, high-quality equipment can be the difference between various iterations of failure and the singularity of success. Here, we’ll examine some of the key reasons for which this is the case, from personal safety to cost-effectiveness.

Enhanced Site Safety

The primary reason for which quality tools are a key provision on construction sites is safety. Cheaper tools may help the short-term bottom-line for a given project, but they are much more dangerous than their higher-quality counterparts, being more likely to become faulty in a potentially-dangerous way. Cheap or old power tools run the risk of failing electrically, while well-used or inexpensive hand tools risk shattering under pressure or strain.

Boosting Productivity

Quality tools are also inherently better at their tasks than cheaper, mass-produced fare. Higher-quality wood-cutting tools can make short work of cutting material down to size, more so than less-expensive equivalents which can often be blunt and ineffective. This higher effectiveness makes for a more productive construction site, as more work is done per man-hour.

Long-Term Cost Savings

This productivity has short-term cost benefits, saving labour costs and potentially even reducing material costs – lower-quality tools can increase the risk of damage being done to materials, causing additional wastage and raising costs as a result –, but the real cost benefits stretch out into the long term.

For one, the improved productivity created by better equipment stacks across projects and over time. For another, higher-quality equipment needs replacing fewer times than cheaper equipment, which is more prone to premature breakage and failure; the old saying ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ holds fast here. Of course, equipment needs maintaining regularly in order to operate optimally, but the cost of such maintenance is far lower than the cumulative costs of dealing with cheaper tools.

Regulations and Compliance

Lastly, we come to the most pragmatic reason for which investment in quality tools and equipment is necessary: regulatory requirements. Building regulations are there to keep us safe, as are health and safety laws. There are requirements in both, with which construction companies and sites must be compliant – and some of which relate to tools and equipment.

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