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Inclusivity Feature: Putting a Strategic Goal into Action

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Building an inclusive region is one of the four overarching strategic goals of the Cardiff Capital Region.

It’s driving our determination to promote, practice and invest in projects focused on closing the economic and social disparities that currently exist across our region.

It’s reimagining a region built on an inclusive economy generating inclusive prosperity. A region where no-one is left behind.

It’s shaping our vision where people are supported into ‘good work’ that pays a living wage – and empowered to enjoy a healthy and sustainable future.

It’s driving our commitment to match economic ambitions with progressive social policies, through actions designed to build a bigger picture where everyone feels they belong – and can fulfil their potential here in Southeast Wales.

That commitment to inclusivity is threaded through the deployment of our £495m Wider Investment Fund and our declared intent to create 25,000 new jobs and a 5% uplift in GVA by 2036.

It’s why Inclusivity runs through the whole pipeline of CCR projects; with the net result of each project and programme ultimately geared to giving everyone in our region the chance to grow their skills, experience better opportunities, access quality public transport, be connected to their community and the world, enjoy a healthier future – and make the most of a new unfolding era.

Inclusivity includes everyone, everywhere …

For us, ‘inclusivity’ includes every single person (all 1.5 million people) living in the 10 unitary authorities that make up our region.

It includes our five priority sectors, our wider trading economy – as well as the broader foundational economy.

It’s at the heart of our pan-regional programmes for transport, housing, challenges and skills.

It stretches beyond our borders, embracing the connections and economic interests we share with the South West of England through the Western Gateway.

It’s building new trade bridges, new trade relations and new international research partnerships.

It’s integrating common forces for good and inspiring new collaborations that unlock untapped potential.

And it’s geared to involve, inspire and include from the bottom-up …

An inclusive mission delivered from the bottom up

A ‘mission-led’ approach is key to realising CCR’s inclusive ambitions. The past five years has seen us both stimulate and steer activities that will build local wealth by nurturing bottom-up experimentation rather than top-down intervention.

Initiatives such as the Challenge Fund have opened up the CCR world to every person with an idea and commitment to solving some of the biggest public challenges we face.

Investments in start-ups, scale-ups and spin-outs have seen us breathe life into enterprises that are creating new jobs in all talent communities, from entry-level opportunities in our Creative and Cyber Industries to specialist roles in Fintech and Medtech.

Our vision for Metro Central and Metro Plus is focused on transforming the economic and social prospects of Southeast Wales – creating a joined-up transport system aimed at connecting communities, levelling up opportunities and enfranchising everyone to access all parts of their region.

Our collaborative and cohesive creation of inclusive career pathways, from Level 2 apprenticeships to the Venture-sponsored Cybersecurity Masters programme, feeds directly into high-growth sectors that are bringing economic benefit to supply chains and communities throughout our region.

Yes, we’re at the beginning of our journey, but the foundations for inclusive success are in place; and our core publications – such as the Future Ready Skills Framework, Passenger Rail Vision and Prosperity for our Place – together with our 2021-2027 Strategic Plan and Regional Economic and Industrial Plan are blueprints for what an inclusive region looks like and roadmaps for how we are going to get there.

As Leigh Hughes, Chair of our Regional Skills Partnerships, so powerfully evidences: 

CCR’s vision for an inclusive skills and employment framework has been there from day one. We brought together thinkers and doers from business, education and training to create a 2019-22 Employment & Skills plan that reflected the key strands of the policies set out in Prosperity for All and The Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act – and are now looking to develop a new three-year Employment & Skills Plan that further harnesses the spirit of co-construction that has become a hallmark of all that we do.

We’re on target to hit all our objectives, including helping inform Welsh Government’s ‘Stronger, fairer, greener Wales: a plan for employability and skills’ that was recently launched to leave a positive legacy for future generations to come.”

Building on an inclusive foundation

So, what will building on this bedrock of inclusivity look like?

It will mean more Challenge Funds aimed at solving the critical challenges we all face – from decarbonisation to health and wellbeing.

It will mean even closer collaboration across Higher & Further Education to devise skills programmes that match more talent with more employers.

It will mean wider and deeper Regional Transport planning, to take a more strategic approach to creating social value and economic inclusion.

It will mean affordable housing programmes, such as the Housing Viability fund, to give people the places and spaces they need and deserve.

It will mean further targeted interventions through initiatives such as the Northern Valleys Transformation Fund, to drive greater inclusion across strategic premises and SME growth.

It will mean developing the academies model for upskilling and reskilling, growing our Venture Graduate and other talent programmes – and building on our successful Cyber Masters collaboration to launch a rolling programme of priority sector-aligned skills interventions.

It will mean supporting the scale up aspirations of new and existing businesses, in every industry and sector – through a £50m 5-year programme of funding that enables us to develop new strategic sites and premises across the region.

As Suzanne Chesterton, Head of Communications, Governance & Policy at CCR, summarises:

“We’re at the stage where we can start putting some hard measures and key metrics on how well we’re achieving our vision for inclusivity across the region.

Those metrics can include the distribution of job creation across CCR, the number of challenges completed that are measurably solving known societal and community issues, the amount of interventions per year that have tangibly increased the number of people in skilled employment – right through to tracking the equitable deployment of viability gap funds that level up the commercial development of our domestic housing and industrial premises, enabling us to identify the increase in affordable housing and industrial premises as a direct outcome.

It’s hugely encouraging to know that we can increasingly use hard data to benchmark our progress against this key strategic goal.”

Inclusivity is more than a word. It’s creating our world …

It’s clear to see that CCR views the world through an inclusive lens, continually looking to bring together ideas from all quarters, as a catalyst for transformation.

Even the vocabulary we use is the language of inclusion … our regional economic and industrial plan – which is in the process of being refreshed to reflect the changing social, economic and policy landscape –  is integrated and co-produced with business and education across the region … our leadership is based on the shared purpose that’s given us a robust Investment and Intervention framework … our unique distributed leadership model promotes networked collaboration and inclusive decision-making … and our distinctive Governance model exemplifies shared endeavour and sense of partnership.

Integrating, co-producing, sharing, collaborating, partnering … CCR  is inclusivity in action, through words – and deeds.

Those deeds are forging proud and resilient communities where people can enjoy a distinctive regional identity and a sense of belonging, enabling all of us to fulfil our potential through a changing 21st century.

As Nicola Sommerville, CCR’s Head of Business Development & Inclusive Growth, so poignantly points out:

“There are countless examples of employers, service providers, partnerships and collaborations driving inclusion across CCR – from democratising services digitally to embedding best-practices in the workplace. We should be rightly proud – and sometimes loud – about the boundaries being pushed and the obstacles being overcome to make this region the place for everyone.”

We’ll be doing just that in our forthcoming features, exploring the different ways in which organisations across our region are making a huge difference through

#InclusivityInAction