Bangor hosts Welsh Labour Market Summit on Skills and Jobs

Dr. Tony Dobbins (Bangor Business School) and Dr. Alexandra Plows (School of Social Sciences) organized a Welsh Labour Market Summit on Skills and Employment at Bangor University on Friday September 18th.

The Labour Market Summit was a knowledge exchange event to promote research impact. It attracted a mixed audience of policy-makers, labour market practitioners, employer representatives, trade unionists, careers advisors, and academics. The speakers were Iwan Thomas (North Wales Economic Ambition Board); Dylan Williams (Head of Economic & Community Regeneration, Isle of Anglesey County Council); Dr. Tony Dobbins and Dr. Alexandra Plows (Bangor University); Rhys Davies (Cardiff University, WISERD); Hannah Blythyn (Political Officer, Unite trade union); Iestyn Davies (Federation of Small Business); Prof. Ewart Keep (Oxford University, SKOPE).

The Summit was an opportunity for different labour market stakeholders to come together to debate policy interventions affecting skills and employment in Wales. Various themes/future labour market challenges emerged from the day, including:

  • Deindustrialization has cast a damaging legacy and there has been long-standing  neglect of interventions to create labour market demand for new quality jobs;
  • It is necessary to move beyond orthodox supply-led skills policy;
  • Supply-side orthodoxy is contributing to growing labour market problems of over-skilling and underemployment paradox;
  • Simply increasing skills alone does not automatically create demand from employers for those skills: so action is required to stimulate demand;
  • Job quality should be firmly on the political agenda – too many jobs in Wales and other UK regions are ‘low road’: low quality, low skill, low wage, precarious;
  • Is rising self-employment a sign of entrepreneurialism or lack of alternatives?
  • Labour Market Intermediaries like North Wales Economic Ambition Board play an important role in matching skills (supply) and existing jobs (demand);
  • The Anglesey ‘Energy Island’ strategy is an important demand-focused jobs plan;
  • Urging support/financing for a Welsh Mittelstand of small-medium sized firms;
  • If the state does less externally, do employers have to do more to plan/fund their own internal workplace learning capacities?
  • Overwork and underwork: rethink how working time/hours are distributed?
  • Is there appetite/support for institutionalizing Social Partnership in Wales between government, employers, trade unions and others to tackle labour market challenges at national, regional, sector levels?

The Welsh Labour Market Summit was funded by grant SG130159 from the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust.

There is a ‘storify’ link to the Summit: https://storify.com/Dr_Clair/labour-market-summit-north-wales

Publication date: 21 September 2015