It states ‘Only by driving competitiveness and innovation, coupled with education and skills training in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, can provide high-quality and sustainable jobs.
We need to be significantly different from every other advanced economy: we need to be ‘startup people’. We need to break our norms. We need to be willing to take chances on new ideas. We have to be serious about creating new products and services that the whole world wants in order to drive competitiveness and innovation create jobs.
We already have some of the best universities, so why don’t we also have the strongest R&D? Or the most robust supply chains? Or the most talented, entrepreneurial workforce in the world?
In addition, as wages in places like China continue to grow, we need to make sure that world-leading companies already located here see the clear upsides of keeping jobs here in Wales. We need to help CEOs make the choice to keep jobs here or even bring them back.
Of course, it’s not just about keeping jobs here, it’s about ensuring that we have the right people with the right skills to fill the job openings we already have. A globally competitive economy requires a globally competitive workforce.
Of critical importance are education and skills training in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. STEM workers are at the forefront of inventing, applying, and producing new technologies. Over the last decade, growth in STEM job openings climbed three times as fast as jobs in other sectors. But, due to our so-called ‘brain drain’, in Wales only 15% of those under the age of 45 who were both born and live in the country possess a degree or higher degree, compared to 44% of Welsh migrants living elsewhere in the UK.
Looking forward, we need to focus on a few areas in particular. First, we need to increase the share of women and minority students in STEM fields. Today, these groups are seriously underrepresented. It’s clear that if more than half of our population can’t find a path to science-related fields of study, we will be at a disadvantage in the global economy.
Second, we must take concrete steps to help ensure that every child has access to a world-class education, with good teachers and mentors. And in order to do this, we need to first take steps to make university more affordable.
Finally, we need to recognise the importance of intellectual property protection. Some 35 per cent of American GDP – more than $5 trillion – comes from about 75 IP-intensive industries. These industries support the employment of about 40 million workers – over a quarter of America’s workforce.
IP protections have a ripple effect, driving innovation and competitiveness in indirect ways. Examples of these complementary industries include the computer manufacturer that uses inputs made by semiconductor firms to make the hardware that is needed to run applications made by software companies.
We need to put in place a fast-track programme for those businesses that need fast action on a patent. For example, for a higher fee, the Patent Office could guarantee a 6-month decision, and small businesses could get a discount on that service. This is vital to even to established industries, such as manufacturing – particularly advanced manufacturing based on new technologies – and is a matter of fundamental importance to Wales’ economic strength in the 21st century.