Jobs growth worry in Wales says Oxford Economics study

Wales may have to wait until 2025 or later until employment levels return to their previous peak, suggests an economic study.

Oxford Economics said Wales and the West Midlands would take longer than other parts of Britain to reach previous jobs levels.

The forecasting consultancy said the situation looked very tough for Wales.

The study for the Financial Times also suggests net jobs growth in Wales to 2015 will be the slowest in the UK.

Oxford Economics director Neil Gibson said: "Unfortunately, the prospects are particularly challenging for areas such as Wales and West Midlands.

"Unfortunately, the type of jobs we see expanding over the next 10 or 15 years are not the sorts of jobs that Wales has in sufficient numbers.

"There's a real challenge to try to get the people who work in the construction industry or the manufacturing industry back into other types of jobs so that the forecast we've predicted doesn't become the very challenging reality that it looks like it might be."

The report predicts that 4,100 extra jobs will be created in Wales over the next five years, an increase of 0.3%, the lowest in the UK.

This compares to 8.3% (384,900) net jobs growth predicted for London, and 6.2% (265,100) in the south east of England.

Scotland is expected to see 2.5% (65,300) growth, and Northern Ireland's forecast is 2.6% (21,800).

Public sector jobs will be lost around the UK but the worst-hit will be those areas most dependent on state employment, including Wales.

Mr Gibson said one possible opportunity for Wales was public sector jobs moving out of London.

He added that there was also cause for guarded optimism in the private sector.

It was possible measures announced in the Budget by the UK Government, such as National Insurance concessions for new firms, could have an effect in Wales.

Mr Gibson added: "It's certainly looking very tough [for Wales] but what we would say is there's a lot of available labour now that should drive down costs.

"There are a number of firms in Wales with a very strong international reputation and it's on to those international firms that we're pinning all hopes of recovery."

The Welsh Assembly Government said it had "acted quickly to minimise the impact of the global recession" through "innovative" schemes.

"We are under no illusions that the next few years will be a challenge for the Welsh economy as we seek to emerge from the recession," said a spokesman.

"This is why the Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones announced last week a refocusing of assembly government resources in order to help make Wales a more attractive place to do business.

"Our priority now is to help all businesses in Wales by investing in high quality infrastructure; to broaden and deepen our skills base and to encourage innovation."

He added: "It is business that creates jobs, not the assembly government. However, we can play a role in providing the best conditions and framework to enable the private sector to grow."

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