GlobalWelsh, the Welsh diaspora organisation, has published the second in its series of annual research on attitudes towards Wales as an economy and business location compared with other Celtic countries and regions.
The digital research was conducted among English-speaking diaspora in 2021. Sapient.d / NordSparx, which specialises in digital anthropology and UX research, conducted the research.
- Wales has continued to see its share of voice grow in digital discussion among diaspora in the six Celtic nations / regions (Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall, Manx, Brittany). Wales is the only country where diaspora discussion has grown in every year over the last six years. Whilst Ireland and Scotland have higher overall volumes of diaspora discussion, Wales has the strongest growth over 2015 – 2020 (fig. 1), resulting from its more recent focus on diaspora engagement
- The pandemic created greater volumes of digital discussion among the diaspora of Wales, Scotland and Ireland – a trend which is likely to be sustained as business practice has permanently become more digital. Wales’ share of voice is now almost the same as Scotland’s
- The trust that diaspora have in Wales has grown in every single year from 2015 to 2020 and these very high levels of trust were maintained in 2021. Wales has led the Trust Index of Celtic nations for the last three years in a row. The concept of ‘trust’ included views on economic trade policies and a perception of how a nation and its people do business on the world stage (figs. 2 & 3)
- The top five industries which diaspora most associate with Wales are (in order): manufacturing, tourism, technology, electronics and aerospace. The largest growth year on year in 2021 was tourism and the only fall was in forestry (fig. 4)
- There is particularly strong diaspora engagement in certain North American locations. The top location in the previous year (New York City) was joined by Toronto and Ohio in 2021. These were followed by Boston, Illinois and Atlantic Canada all of which saw significant increases in 2021 compared with 2020 (fig. 5)
- Foreign investors had fewer concerns about Wales compared to other UK locations. In particular there was much less concern about any negative effects of separation from the United Kingdom compared with Scotland and Northern Ireland. Foreign investors scored Wales highly for internet access, overall skills, tech education and taxation. Liquidity was the greatest concern and there was some room for improvement in digital skills. Ireland continued to have the most positive views among foreign investors (fig. 6)
- Data from 2020-2021 shows that the Welsh workforce is rated highly, in particular for reliability, work ethic and education (fig. 7)
- Diaspora scored Wales strongly as a place associated with start-ups and Wales now performs well compared with Ireland and Scotland which have promoted themselves as start-up destinations for much longer. The diaspora particularly associated Wales with start-up activity in FinTech and MedTech (fig. 8)
Giles Crouch, managing partner of sapient.d / NordSparx and a citizen of Canada and the UK and of Welsh descent said:
The pandemic of 2020-21 advanced the use of digital technologies and played a key role in how people around the world engaged online. This provided GlobalWelsh with opportunities to expand the brand of Wales, which it most certainly did.
Wales is beginning to stand up with Scotland and Ireland who have spent more than a decade building engagement with their diaspora. Wales is catching up. Fast.
Walter May, founder and CEO of GlobalWelsh said:
Wales has exciting business opportunities and the diaspora are a key part of that. We have just celebrated our fifth birthday and are pleased to see the continued increase in interest among the diaspora in the future economic prosperity and business opportunity in Wales. Together we must capitalise on that interest and positive spirit to strengthen the future of Wales.