Prosperous Wales – Public Bodies in Wales Need to Innovate

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Almost a quarter of people are living in poverty in Wales, only 1% of apprenticeships in Wales are filled by disabled people and future working trends suggest that 65% of jobs at risk of becoming automated are those done by women.

Guidance developed by the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, in partnership with the Wales Cooperative Centre and others, advises public bodies in Wales of the practical steps they need to take to improve prosperity in a way which addresses fair and local procurement, decent work, local economies, the move to a low carbon society and skills for the future.

Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales said: 

“One of the unique features of the Well-being of Future Generations Act is our definition of prosperity. It does not measure well-being in traditional ways such as how much money we earn, how much we contribute towards the economy or the value of our goods and services. It makes no reference to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or Gross Value Added (GVA).

“Our approach is to measure what matters such as a skilled workforce, clean air, how we access public transport, and supporting sustainable local economies. This is part of a growing movement towards well-being economies where countries such as New Zealand are following Wales’ lead.

“The legislation calls on public bodies to contribute towards ‘an innovative, productive and low carbon society which recognises the limits of the global environment and therefore uses resources efficiently and proportionately (including acting on climate change); and which develops a skilled and well-educated population in an economy which generates wealth and provides employment opportunities, allowing people to take advantage of the wealth generated through securing decent work.”

“Public bodies spend £6 billion per year delivering services and this is an area where changes can be made that contribute to generating apprenticeships, lower carbon emissions, buying from local business and building in health considerations. We must procure goods and services that contribute to global well-being, reduces carbon emissions and supports a circular economy. I welcome the approaches taken by Monmouthshire, Powys councils and Amgueddfa Cymru who have reformed their procurement processes in order to reduce their carbon emissions.

“Powys Council have launched a ‘Powys Pound’ as a commitment to boost the amount of money spent with Powys businesses. Amgueddfa Cymru also describe the community benefit plans implemented in redeveloping St Fagans Museum, which included work placements, apprenticeship hours and employment of local workforce with an overall investment of over £27 million in the Welsh and UK economy.”

The Commissioner has also expressed concern about how prepared the public sector workforce is to deliver digital services in the future. In a discussion paper published next month, the Commissioner will say that successful future workers will require adaptability and flexibility in their skillsets, and the ability to analyse and respond to complex environments and contexts. The paper will outline what the education system can do to contribute to this.

“This week the Welsh Government published their review of digital innovation for the economy to assess the realities and trends that will shape the future of work and it is clear that public bodies need to plan for future workforces, identifying skill gaps and solutions, ensuring there are sufficient opportunities for lifelong learning. In-work training and investment in the arts and sports are vital to ensure we are developing creative skills.”

The Commissioner is calling on public bodies in Wales to take bolder steps towards A Prosperous Wales by:

  • Driving practices which create decent work opportunities
  • Develop a skilled multi-disciplinary workforce that can respond to future technological change
  • Such as the ‘Blaenau Gwent Effect’ uses the Siroli Institute approach to deliver person-centred community and economic development

“This unique definition of prosperity gives us a real opportunity to transform in bold and better ways by investing in innovation, being proactive, and share learning so we can reverse the trends that show a continued decline in health, wealth and biodiversity outcomes.”