Showing posts from April, 2017

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Speech delivered to the National Assembly on 5th April 2017 I’m delighted to have tabled this debate today along with my colleagues Hefin David, Vikki Howells and Jeremy Miles and my friend David Melding. Genuinely delighted. Just, as we pressed last month, that we must do all we can to bolster the so-called Foundational economy, we must also look at the external trends that are set to change our lives, and our economies. We are in the early stages of a fourth industrial revolution - marked by our ability to combine digital technologies with physical and biological systems. Just as the first industrial revolution was brought about through our ability to harness steam power; the second by our capacity to generate electrical power - driving mass-production; and the third industrial revolution was prompted by the development of electronics and computers. This fourth industrial revolution sees machines, data, & algorithms becoming embedded into every aspect of o

Think Big Llanelli

Column published in Llanelli Herald on March 31st 2017 Too many people in and around the Llanelli constituency have given up on the idea that things will get better. And they distrust promises that it can. Establishing a new trading relationship with Europe, and the predictions that some 700,000 jobs could be replaced by automation in the coming years, mean that we face fierce challenges. But just because it is going to be hard, it doesn’t mean that we cannot re-establish Llanelli as a furnace of innovation and industry in Wales. For too long our strengths have been overlooked and as a community we’ve given up hope that things can be better. We must be more ambitious, and we must try new things. In unpredictable times we need to move away from conventional approaches and focus on innovative approaches which adapt easily to changed circumstances. That means we should build fewer roads and business parks and be willing to experiment. We also need more emphasis on the

Send it back!

Column published in Llanelli Herald on March 24th 2017 “Do you like powdered egg” I asked Wales’s Chief Nurse when she gave evidence to the Assembly’s powerful Public Accounts Committee? This miserable sounding dish was one of the examples given to me on my Facebook page of the food that’s served up in hospitals - in this case Glangwyli. Her answer wasn’t very convincing. “It depends what's in it”, she replied. My suggestion was to serve it up in the Welsh Government’s office and in the Assembly canteen and see what they made of it. It wasn’t a flippant suggestion. But she didn’t seem keen. The exchange came about because I was genuinely angry about a report I’d read which said that one in three patients found hospital meals unappetising, and as a result a Million pounds worth of food is thrown away uneaten every year. If patients miss a meal they are not always offered a replacement, and not all patients are offered snacks - even when they are advised to eat th

The Foundational Economy

Column published in Llanelli Herald on March 17th 2017 Karel Williams grew up in Goring Road in Llanelli. He is now a Professor at Manchester Business School, and he has come up with some interesting ideas about how we can breathe life back into towns like Llanelli which have been left behind after the heavy industry that inspired their creation has gone. Rather than chase after big foreign investment, look after what you’ve got on your doorstep, he’s argued. The mundane, unglamorous everyday stuff - what he’s called the ‘Foundational Economy’: the industries and businesses that are there because people are there. The food we eat, the homes we live in, the energy we use and the care we receive. This isn’t a small part of our economy. It accounts for four in ten jobs, and £1 in every three that we spend. Our focus has been on so-called ‘anchor companies’ employing more than 1,000 people in one place, but more than 3,000 people are employed in making sofas across Wales a