QUESTIONS over what is being done to bring better paid jobs and more opportunities for youngsters in mid Wales have been raised in the Senedd.
During a debate on Tuesday, mid and west Wales MSs Cefin Campbell and Jane Dodds, along with Montgomeryshire MS, Russell George, quizzed Minister for the Economy in Wales, Vaughan Gething, on what is being done to help the region.
Mr George was first to raise the issue, asking: “What is the Welsh Government doing to create more higher paid jobs in mid Wales?” to which one anonymous member of the Senedd quipped off-camera ‘nothing’.
Mr Gething replied the Welsh Government is investing in skills and business support through the Mid Wales Growth Deal.
On the growth deal, Mr George said: “It’s been slow coming, but I am pleased that it is now in place.
“What I believe it’s not so much we need more jobs, we need better jobs, higher skilled jobs and better paid jobs.”
Mr Gething used the example of Atherton Bikes in Machynlleth an how the Welsh Government has supported the company and creating better paid jobs in the region.
Cefin Campbell said: “In quarter one of this financial year, 48 per cent of total development Bank of Wales investment was made to firms in south east Wales as compared to 29 per cent in mid and west Wales and 23 per cent in north Wales.
“This was linked to the creation of 250 jobs in south east Wales, less than 150 in mid and west Wales and under than 100 jobs in north Wales.
“This is indicative of a long running trend whereby development bank investment has tended to be concentrated in south east Wales.”
Mr Gething said the bank was looking at mid Wales and opportunities in renewable energy in the region and had supported businesses.
Later in the debate, Jane Dodds said more opportunities were needed for young people in rural Wales.
She quoted a survey conducted by Aberystwyth University which found that four in ten young people in rural Wales expect to be living outside of Wales in five years’ time.
The same survey found that over 40 per cent would prefer to remain living in their home region, but moving away was seen as necessary to achieve their career goals.
Ms Dodds MS said: “There is a clear desire from our young people of wanting to stay and develop their careers here in Wales but the opportunities are just not there.
“At the same time, we know that skill shortages are acting as a stopper on investment and growth in Wales.
“Research from the Federation of Small Businesses found that 80% of small firms struggled to recruit in the past 12 months. While the Institute of Employment Studies found that 42% of employers named “lack of skills” as the main reason why they do not hire young people.
“There is a real mismatch between the aspirations of our rural youth and the needs of our local industries and small businesses.
“It is critical that the Welsh Government helps foster local skills in our rural areas, opening employment access to young people, so they aren’t forced to look elsewhere to pursue their dream careers.
“By exploring the possibility of subsidising transport fares for young people, as we suggested in our recent manifesto, we as a nation could open more opportunities for our young people.
“By helping our young people stay in their home regions with their talents for the foreseeable future, we all benefit.”
Mr Gething said: “For young people making the choice to remain in rural communities is about ensuring that the rural economy can thrive.”