pounds 1bn of funds has now been allocated for creating wealth and jobs in the 15 poorer counties of Wales.Byline: Dylan JONES-EVANS Dylan Jones-Evans (born 1966) is Director of the National Entrepreneurship Observatory for Wales based at the Centre for Advanced Studies at Cardiff University
At 29, he was appointed as the youngest professor of business and management in Europe, holding the chair of
OUR years ago, whenI was younger and perhaps less wise,I wrote an article that actually asked the question ``So what can Welsh businesses expect by 2003, when the first term of the new assembly draws to a close?'' At the time,I suggested there would be three tests for the economic success of the Welsh Assembly Welsh Assembly n → Parlement gallois ,namely closing the prosperity between the richer and poorer parts of Wales,creation of quality employment and the development of relevant business support to help our businesses grow. So, with just over a month and a half to go before the next elections,I thought I would spend the next three weeks looking at each of these issues to see what has actually happened in the last four years.
As all of you know, two thirds ofWales qualifies as one of the poorest parts of Europe,and over pounds 1bn has been allocated for creating wealth and jobs in the 15 poorer counties of Wales The counties of Wales may variously refer to:
So what has happened?The New Earnings Survey shows that the average gross weekly pay in the Objective 1 region in 2002 was pounds 319 - an increase of 9.7pc since1999. In contrast, the average weekly wage in the non-Objective 1 region was pounds 356 - an increase of nearly 14pc. So the gap in prosperity has increased if we look at wage packets alone.
Indeed,a detailed analysis of the New Earnings Survey suggests the only reason Wales has kept pace with the UK is the higher salaries we actually pay across the board in the public sector,not the private sector,as we have seen recently with the row over NHS NHS
National Health Service
NHS (in Britain) National Health Service management salaries.
In terms of new jobs, the latest employment data from the Office for National Statistics show that despite committing pounds 1bn, the gap seems to be widening between West Wales West Wales is the western area of Wales bordered by South Wales to the east. The area is loosely-defined, but is generally considered to include Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, southern areas of Ceredigion, and sometimes the city of Swansea, . and the Valleys,an area which includes Gwynedd, Conwy,Anglesey and Denbighshire,and the rest of Wales. While more than 750 projects have been funded,it is strange to find the change in employment rate is almost double in those counties that did not qualify for Objective 1, such as Wrexham and the Vale of Glamorgan, than for those that did qualify, such as Denbighshire and Rhondda Cynon Taff
put differently ,in the three year period between November 1999 to November 2002, there has been a net increase of around 18,000 jobs in theObjective 1 region as opposed to around 34,000 in the rest of Wales. Indeed,it is the ``M4 counties'' in South East Walesthat have created nearly half of all the new jobs in Wales in the last three years, thus widening thegap.
One conclusion could be that Objective 1 funded projects are not yet delivering the jobs and prosperity promised. Another could be that,despite all those hundreds of millions of pounds,it may be that our politicians simply do not believe we will create jobs within the rural and industrially declining parts of Wales and those urban centres such as Cardiff and Wrexham continue to be the magnets for prosperity.
Of course,I would not accept such an argument as I strongly believe we can, with the right approach,create jobs poorer areas. However,it is interesting to note the First Minister,in a debate last year when speaking about bringing jobs to Pembrokeshire, stated: ``It is a matter of hitting it lucky eventually; that is the nature of job creation.'' Whatever the opinion,only time will tell.
Business website of the week: HYPERLINK ``http://www.objectiveone.com'' www.objectiveone.com.Find out how Cornwall is spending its Objective 1 money - it's an interesting comparison with the Welsh programme.