If there’s one thing we can learn from Ford Bridgend’s decision to pack up and go it’s that multinational companies cannot be relied upon to sustain Wales’ economy.
Wales has become so reliant on inward investment that when these giant corporations decide to leave it leaves our nation in a precarious situation as we have little to fall back on. We go into panic mode and scramble all sorts of things to try and maintain what has been for so long.
We can place blame at Brexits door, but the reality is Ford is a global company that is at the mercy of free market forces. If it’s cheaper to make things in other parts of the world then thats where they’ll go. Sure, Brexit has had some influence, of course it has, but I doubt it was the overriding factor. If anything, Brexit has been a scapegoat for many international companies to mask their decisions to leave Wales or UK.
Lack of Investment
In a sense it is right, we do require some inward investment for jobs, but how are we so reliant on multinational investment? The answer is of course that we simply haven’t invested in ourselves, in homegrown businesses enterprises. We haven’t developed our private sector enough to sustain our economy without multi-national involvement.
I’m not suggesting we abandon inward investment from multinationals altogether, they’ll still be an important element to the Welsh economy for many years to come. In a global economy and for us to develop beneficial trade deals we must accept that multinational companies have a role to play in a Welsh economy.
But it’s also vitally important that we invest time and money into developing a viable and profitable home-grown private sector. I’ve said this a few times over the last couple of weeks that the backbone to any economy are thriving, home-grown small businesses and established medium sized companies. They are vital to our prosperity and this fact cannot be underestimated.
According to these figures for 2017 there were just under 103,000 small to medium enterprise (SME) businesses operating in Wales. In 2018, stats here, 399,000 people were classed as economically inactive and 69,000 were classed as unemployed.
Based on a low amount of SME’s and a high percentage of people economically inactive, there’s substantial scope to tap into a potential entrepreneurial goldmine.
So how do we go about tapping into the entrepreneurialism that exists in Wales?
What I propose is a National Business Development Service for Wales, where it’s made easier for people to enter the world of self-employment or to start up a new SME. People who want to get on in life should have easy access to top class support, funding and skills development. An NBDS would be the chance to not only tap into, but unleash a unique brand of Welsh entrepreneurialism.
The potential for a service like this could be huge for Wales. For the first time in possibly ever, we’d be making serious, radical changes that will focus on Wales and what’s best for Wales. The NBDS could be delivered and administered at a local level and be active in surrounding communities. People could learn how to be successful at business by learning from other successful businessmen and women.
The service could be used to help people remove barriers from their lives which will enable them to take those first tentative steps towards self-reliance. The knock-on effect for the nation will be a skilled, empowered and motivated workforce thats not reliant on outside influences.
Unlocking our Potential
But the key to unlocking our potential is our education system. Our young people must be prepared and nurtured to think of working for themselves as a normal thing and what could well be expected of them in later in life. Being self-reliant is the most empowering state of mind there is and if we can tap into that then the future of future generations will look far more prosperous.
If we as a nation can unlock the potential within us, then the need to rely on multi-national business to provide us with jobs will be drastically reduced. No longer will we be left to the mercy of the whims of the likes of Ford and others. We really need to help ourselves out a bit from here on in and do what Wales needs and not succumb to the needs of unaccountable multi-nationals.
My name is Lee Felton, I’m one of the editors on Ein GWALD’s News Portal, National Secretary and Graphics Officer. I have a Valley’s working class background and I’m not afraid to say what I think. If i’m wrong, I’m wrong, and I’ll be the first to put my hand up.