Leaders in Welsh industry unite to debate ‘brain drain’ of young rural talent

THE next generation of entrepreneurs in Wales must develop better solutions to existing challenges and use their imaginations and abilities to create value for the economy.

Responding to concerns about young people moving out of rural Wales to seek work opportunities in other areas of the UK, Professor Emeritus Andy Penaluna from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David discussed how recent census data pointed to a rise in the numbers leaving areas such as Ceredigion, which has seen a 28% drop in 15 to 19-year-olds since 2011.

Speaking to more than 80 decision makers and learners at an Entrepreneurship and Career Summit hosted by Antur Cymru Enterprise – held at Canolfan yr Egin, Carmarthen – Professor Penaluna was joined by leading names from multiple sectors.

Among them were Careers Wales Chief Executive Nikki Lawrence; Llinos Price from Big Ideas Wales, CDI (Careers Development Institute) President and Chair, Carolyn Parry, and Scott James, founder of Coaltown Coffee Roasters in Ammanford (pictured).

Chaired by Mid and West Wales MS Cefin Campbell, the panel discussed topics including the national recruitment crisis and how to help young people navigate their working lives, and there was a special message from Minister for Economy, Vaughan Gething MS, who said:

“You don’t have to get out to get on, you can make your future here in Wales.

“In terms of skills and employment, our Young Persons Guarantee is an ambitious programme that will aim to provide everyone under 25 in Wales with support to access education, training or into work or self-employment.

“Our challenge is making sure we have balanced communities where young people have a fighting chance of planning and living a successful future right here in Wales.”

Meanwhile, Emma Benger, Senior Programme Delivery Manager for Employability and Skills at the Welsh Government, identified challenges and support available for young people concerned about their next steps to education, training and employment.

She highlighted issues including the widening gap in qualification levels between Wales and the rest of the UK, and said milestones moving forward will include targets such as ensuring at least 90% of 16-24 year olds will be in education, employment, or training; elimination of the pay gap for gender, disability and ethnicity, and for the percentage of working age adults with no qualifications to be 5% or below in every local authority, all by 2050.

Bronwen Raine, Managing Director of Antur Cymru Enterprise, also delivered a presentation on the organisation’s crucial work in rural areas – including delivery of Big Ideas Wales Youth Entrepreneurship support – and thanked everyone who attended on the day.

“The Summit brought together prominent figures from education, politics and different industries and covered some pivotal themes,” she added.

“It was a chance to showcase what guidance and advice is out there for young people, but also to discuss and debate what needs to be done to keep talent in this country, now and in the future – I think we did that and look forward to holding further events soon.”

For more information on Antur Cymru Enterprise, visit www.anturcymru.org.uk.