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Workplace inequality affects economy

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Workplace equality: Could grow economy by 10%

INFLEXIBLE workplace structures, gendered assumptions about childcare, and wide-scale discrimination mean mothers are more likely to be trapped in part-time, low-paid work with fewer opportunities for career progression.

Those are the findings of a National Assembly committee which has been looking at the issue.

The Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee believe such factors are key causes of gender inequality and represent a loss to the economy.
The UK Government’s Women’s Business Council estimates that equalising the employment rates of women and men could grow the UK economy by more than 10% by 2030.

The employment rate for women with dependent children in Wales is 75%, compared to 91% for men with dependent children.

The gender pay gap between men and women in Wales is 15% for all employees (full and part time).

A 2016 survey by the Equality and Human Rights Commission revealed that Welsh employers lag behind England and Scotland in offering flexible working.

The same survey found that 87% of employers in Wales feel it is in the best interests of organisations to support pregnant women and those on maternity leave. But it also found that 71% of mothers reported negative or discriminatory experiences as a result of having children.

Employment law isn’t devolved to Wales but the Committee focused on the levers at the Welsh Government’s disposal including employment of public sector workers and businesses and organisations in receipt of public funding,

“During the course of our inquiry we heard some shocking individual experiences: women who lost their jobs during maternity leave, careers derailed because of the lack of flexible work, and fathers prevented from taking on caring responsibilities because of cultural attitudes,” said John Griffiths AM, Chair of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee.

“These stories have directly influenced our conclusions and recommendations.

“Preventing a large proportion of the population from contributing their skills and experience to the workforce is not fair and does not make economic sense.

“In light of technological, social and economic changes, now is the time to modernise workplaces so that they are fit for the future for everyone, not just parents.

“We believe the Welsh Government can set a standard in promoting flexible working, ensuring organisations in receipt of public funding are flexible by default and by reassessing its new childcare offer.”

The Committee makes 34 recommendations in its report, including:

  • That the Welsh Government should advertise public sector jobs (including teaching posts) as ‘flexible by default’, and lead the way by allowing senior roles like Ministers and councillors to be job-shared;
  • Strengthening the obligations on organisations receiving public funding to provide flexible working and report on the retention rates of staff returning from maternity leave;
  • The Committee heard that the Welsh Government’s new Childcare Offer was unlikely to achieve its main aim of increasing maternal employment in the most effective way. It recommended the Government reconsider the target age group and the income threshold; and,
  • the Welsh Government improve advice services in Wales, and that information about rights and obligation at work should be provided to women at an early stage of pregnancy.

The report will now be considered by the Welsh Government.

Business

Former Pembroke Barclays to become shopfront and residential apartments

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Plans to convert a former Barclays Bank branch on Pembroke’s Main Street to retail and residential apartments have been given the go-ahead.

Mr Zouras, through agent RPC Design & Architecture Ltd, sought permission from Pembrokeshire County Council for a change of use and conversion of the former Grade-II-listed bank at 35 Main Street to retail on the ground floor and residential apartments at the rear ground, first and second floors.

The branch closed in July 2019, the same year the bank’s Narberth and Milford Haven branches closed.

A supporting heritage statement said: “The three-storey building is currently vacant and was a former bank on the ground floor. The first floor was former staff rooms and male/female toilets. The second floor was used as storage. There is an existing outdoor paved area and private, off-road car parking to the rear for four to six cars.  The building is Grade II listed; designated in 2005.”

CADW’s listing says: “…earlier C19 terraced house, front remodelled in 1925 for Barclays Bank to plans by J. H. Morgan of Carmarthen. The building was then called Bank House, but it is not known how long it had been a bank.”

An officer report says: “The ground floor shopfront is six bays wide divided by faceted pilasters of ashlar stone – a hint towards the art-deco style. Heavy fielded panel doors to the left-hand bay. Heavy classical stucco window surrounds to upper floors, the middle window has a pediment above – conventional Edwardian Bank detail, old fashioned for the 1920s.”

The listed building application was conditionally approved by county planners.

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Business

How Small Businesses Can Build Strong Teams

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In the moving world of business today, small businesses encounter obstacles to staying competitive. A vital factor contributing to their success is the ability to form teams. Small businesses can unleash their potential and achieve sustainable growth by building motivated teams. This article will explore strategies small businesses can use to establish teams, foster a collaborative work atmosphere, and deliver outstanding outcomes.

Setting Clear Expectations

Establishing expectations is crucial for developing a team. Small businesses should clearly communicate their objectives, values, and performance metrics to ensure everyone starts on the same page. By defining roles and responsibilities, employees align with common goals and feel empowered to perform efficiently. Transparent communication also sets forth guidelines on deliverables, timelines, and quality standards, promoting accountability across the team. Tips for team building can also be exchanged and implemented for a stronger team with everyone’s opinions and values in mind.

Encouraging Continuous Learning

In today’s changing business environment, small businesses must emphasize learning within their teams. Encouraging employees to acquire skills and broaden their knowledge benefits both individuals and the organization. Organize workshops or training sessions regularly to address industry trends or explore areas that could enhance productivity. Initiatives such as these not only lift employees’ spirits but also enhance productivity by providing the team with valuable knowledge and skills.

Promoting Transparent Communication

Effective communication is crucial for teamwork. Small businesses should aim for an environment where all team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. By promoting open communication through team meetings and collaboration tools, businesses improve the flow of information within the organization.

Managers play a huge role in listening to team members’ opinions and concerns, which helps them feel valued and ultimately boosts job satisfaction. Encouraging interactions among colleagues fosters relationships, reduces stress, and promotes better collaboration.

Supporting Teamwork

In a market, collaboration among team members is essential for businesses aiming to grow. Encouraging functional collaboration can lead to innovative ideas and enhanced problem-solving abilities. Collaboration also creates a work environment where employees feel united and responsible for achieving shared goals.

Small business leaders should prioritize teamwork by organizing projects or team-building activities that promote trust and respect among colleagues. These activities could include brainstorming sessions, platforms for sharing knowledge, or participating in community service together. By fostering collaboration, small businesses are better prepared to tackle challenges as a group.

Recognizing and Appreciating Achievements

Acknowledging employees’ accomplishments boosts their dedication to the team and strengthens the connection between management and staff. Small businesses should implement a recognition program that highlights performance at both team levels. Publicly celebrating successes motivates employees and also encourages others to strive for greatness.

Offering Opportunities for Growth

Supporting development is the key to cultivating teams in small businesses. Providing growth opportunities like mentorship programs, skill enhancement workshops, or financial aid for education helps attract and retain talent. By investing in employee growth, businesses foster loyalty while grooming individuals to assume leadership roles in the future.

Inclusive Decision-Making Process

Small businesses can unlock the potential of their teams by involving all members in decision-making processes whenever possible. Encouraging inclusive decision-making empowers employees, giving them a sense of ownership over their work and fostering commitment to shared objectives. Embracing different perspectives enhances creativity and reduces biases, leading to well-informed decisions that benefit the organization.

Maximizing Employee Well-Being

Maintaining employee well-being is critical to building strong teams within small businesses. When employees feel supported and valued, their productivity and satisfaction levels significantly increase. Small businesses can prioritize employee well-being by implementing measures such as flexible work arrangements, promoting work-life balance, providing wellness programs, and fostering a positive work culture.

Flexible work arrangements allow employees to control their schedules, balancing personal responsibilities while meeting professional commitments. This flexibility can lead to higher job satisfaction and reduced stress levels among team members.

Closing Thoughts

Establishing teams is crucial for businesses seeking long-term success in a competitive landscape.By establishing guidelines encouraging education, nurturing open dialogue and teamwork, acknowledging accomplishments, offering avenues for development, and incorporating inclusive decision-making practices, companies can cultivate strong teams that excel at sparking creativity and attaining impressive outcomes. Robust teams not only assist enterprises in surmounting obstacles but also lay the groundwork for future expansion and success.

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The Crown Estate in boost to UK offshore wind investment

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THE UK’s offshore wind industry is poised to receive a significant boost in early-stage investment through the launch of The Crown Estate’s innovative Supply Chain Accelerator, aimed at catalysing the growth of the UK’s domestic supply chain for offshore wind.

The Accelerator, a new £50 million fund, has been established to expedite and de-risk the initial stages of projects linked to offshore wind, fostering the development of the UK’s supply chain capabilities.

An initial £10 million funding round is now open for Expressions of Interest from businesses aiming to develop UK projects that support the nascent supply chain for floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea.

Earlier this year, The Crown Estate’s research, The Celtic Sea Blueprint, forecasted the creation of 5,300 jobs and a £1.4 billion economic boost from deploying the first floating offshore wind capacity off South Wales and South-West England, stemming from the ongoing Leasing Round 5 process.

This research identified several critical supply chain opportunities essential for these floating wind farms, including floating platform components, dynamic cables and connections, wet storage infrastructure, operations and management facilities, and skills transition facilities.

The first £10 million funding round will target projects addressing these opportunities, providing matched funding of up to £1 million for early-stage development. The Crown Estate will also consider participating in the capital investment phase.

Formal applications open in mid-June and close at the end of July, with successful projects announced from October 2024. Grant Thornton, a leading professional services firm, will support The Crown Estate in this endeavour.

The Crown Estate’s mission is to create long-term value for the country, focusing on using its managed land and seabed to catalyse net zero, restore nature, create thriving communities, and drive economic growth. Developing the offshore wind industry’s domestic supply chain through collaboration with industry and government partners is a key part of these ambitions.

Following the deployment of the first £10 million, an additional £40 million has been earmarked to support UK projects aligned with the Industrial Growth Plan. This plan, launched by RenewableUK and industry partners including The Crown Estate last month, outlines actions required to triple offshore wind manufacturing capacity over the next decade.

The UK is already a global leader in offshore wind, with the sector producing 49TWh of electricity last year and a pipeline growing by 10GW in 2023 to 93GW, according to The Crown Estate’s UK Offshore Wind Report 2023.

Government estimates suggest that 125GW of offshore wind capacity may be needed by 2050 to achieve net zero, underscoring the importance of investment in the UK’s supply chain to maintain competitiveness amidst global decarbonisation efforts.

Will Apps, Offshore Wind Strategy Director at The Crown Estate, remarked, “We’re delighted to launch our Supply Chain Accelerator to catalyse early-stage project development and maximise opportunities identified in the Celtic Sea Blueprint. Investing in our domestic supply chain will enable the UK to remain a world leader in offshore wind while creating jobs and economic growth in local communities.”

Gus Jaspert, Managing Director, Marine at The Crown Estate, added, “Offshore wind is crucial to our energy transition and local and national regeneration with new jobs, skills, and industry. Our world-leading offshore wind industry plays a pivotal role in the UK’s energy transition, and demand will only increase as we move towards a net zero economy by 2050. We must invest in and develop the UK’s supply chain to accelerate growth and make our offshore wind sector the most attractive globally.”

“The Supply Chain Accelerator will enable investment in priority capabilities and skills to deliver the opportunities within the Celtic Sea Blueprint, driving regional economic growth and ensuring value onshore through offshore activities.”

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