New thinking not old structures required for renewal and resilience in the economy

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ColegauCymru responds to OECD report on the future governance of regional development and public investment in Wales 

In response to the publication of the OECD report The Future of Regional Development and Public Investment in Wales, ColegauCymru has welcomed the focus on increasing the skills of the workforce but has warned that new thinking not old structures are the key to success.  

The report, commissioned by Welsh Government, outlines how better integration across the UK, Wales and local institutions is key to securing economic resilience and wider wellbeing. It includes the constructive recommendation that Wales needs to improve skills at tertiary level, which in international terms is the requirement for improved levels of attainment for those who have left school or completed initial vocational training in college.   

However, ColegauCymru has concerns due to speculation on how best to achieve this and other shared ambitions for Wales.  

Iestyn Davies, CEO of ColegauCymru, the post-16 education and training charity that works with Wales’ network of Further Education providers said, 

“Unsurprisingly, much of the focus is now on the proposition of reintroducing the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) or some other arm’s-length body. This would be a backwards move. Wales needs new thinking and new ways of working and not further pointless debate on the reintroduction of outdated quangos. Reassuringly this does not appear to be the approach recommended by the report.”  

In a wide-ranging report, the OECD addresses the complex inter-related areas of tax, infrastructure, business size as well as the historic legacies of industrial past and the urban/rural divide. The authors also highlight how activity in one policy area, such as innovation, or specific technological areas, such as energy, will have implications for education and skills.  

Iestyn Davies added, 

“Concentrating responsibility in a single appointed body runs the very real risk of creating a policy silo, a jealously guarded chiefdom and the paralysis of unquestioning group think. With so many aspects of the challenge stretching across governments, local authorities as well as public and private bodies, Ministerial responsibility has to be clear alongside democratic accountability.” 

The report acknowledges this challenge, highlighting that the current lack of continuity “may also contribute to a culture that places greater weight on policy design (the need for something new) rather than policy delivery.” 

ColegauCymru will continue to monitor this policy area and its implications for education and skills, alongside the proposal to reintroduce other intermediary funding and regulatory bodies specific to post 16 education.  

Further Information

The Future of Regional Development and Public Investment in Wales, United Kingdom
17 September 2020

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