Cardiff Breakfast Club, Tuesday 13th December

Posted: December 13, 2011 in Cardiff Breakfast Club, Events
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A strong turn out of figures from across the Cardiff business community battled the elements for the Cardiff Breakfast Club  meeting this morning, rewarded with an engaging and aspirational speech from Dame Gillian Morgan, the Permanent Secretary for the Welsh Government.

Dame Gillian focused on ‘delivering more for less’, discussing both the importance the Welsh Government has placed on this approach, and its means for implementing it.

With forecasters predicting a move into recession, the pressure is on for the public sector to get the most out of its resources, making its money work as hard as it can. To this end Dame Gillian discussed the Welsh Government’s reduction in both staff numbers and in buildings, reduced from 93 to just 40 across the country. Time, effort and energy have been invested in ascertaining just how they can ‘do things differently’.

This change in attitude, practice and culture is very necessary, as Dame Gillian stressed. She outlined three big challenges: firstly, a cultural complacency. There is ‘some wonderful stuff’ happening here, and we need to be proud about it – to compare and compete with the best. Dame Gillian also discussed the necessity of effectively marketing Cardiff and the South Wales region, to remove the perception of it as ‘distant’ or ‘decrepit’. She recounted correcting someone who was under the impression that it took 8 hours to get to Cardiff! To get others to see the region differently, we must first begin to really champion ourselves.

The second challenge Dame Gillian noted was complexity, and indeed the Welsh Government have taken great steps to ‘declutter their environment’ in order to do more for and with less. Some initiatives can be done in a much more coordinated way, ‘blurring the autonomy’ and encouraging local communities to come together. In appropriate situations we must, Dame Gillian emphasised, encourage the ‘common sense’ approach!

The last, and biggest, challenge was that of capacity and capability. While Wales has the talent to match other regions, it does not necessarily have the depth. Dame Gillian used the department of transport policy as an example: while the Scottish Government has 74 employees in this area, Wales has 3. This challenge is being tackled through schemes that ‘train our own’, such as the recruitment of Welsh graduates into the Government’s intensive 2-year procurement course, and other apprenticeship schemes. Effective and charismatic leadership is also integral to resolving this, and the Welsh Government must lead by example.

As Dame Gillian heartily emphasised, steps are already being taken to get the absolute best from the resources in place here. There is ‘wonderful stuff’ happening in Wales – from business growth to Doctor Who – and with careful thought and implementation, it can flourish even further in the future.

 

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