Archive for November, 2012

Postgraduate student Charlotte Seymour is now in her second week of  a Go Wales Work Taster with us, alongside studying for an MA in International Public Relations. Here’s how she’s getting on so far!

Our latest Work Taster student is Charlotte Seymour.

Our latest Work Taster student is Charlotte Seymour.

I found it very interesting reading over the blog post from this month’s Breakfast Club with Julie Lydon, Vice Chancellor of the University of Glamorgan. She openly discussed the big debate among students: why do a degree? I had struggled after graduating in a Bsc Psychology and Criminology from Kingston University, and found myself moving to the Mediterranean job searching, in hope of some career spark. I settled for an international school, teaching English. After a few years of deliberation, I finally found inspiration in what I enjoy and decided the communications industry will give me the challenges and diverse environment that I always hoped for.

Interestingly, a lot of my family and friends discouraged me from seeking Higher Education as I started to think about a Masters at Cardiff University. But after much research, I realised that what is needed these days is a professional based degree or what comes with it, work experience. For this reason, I found great encouragement from Julie Lydon’s talk this month; combining education with work experience, helps push you as a potential employee, and develop a number of skills set for industry.

When I had (begrudgingly!) started to pay my Masters Tuition fees, I actively sought out work experience to help guide my understanding of theory.  With determination, I was ecstatic to find a little angel in Go Wales’ work taster scheme who led me to Petersens PR. Not only am I studying what I love, but I’m learning ‘on the job’ from the most fantastic team.  I am now in to my second week and already feel settled in. I have already helped update the newsletter, researched media lists and drank lots of warming tea to help warm me up after the long, cold train and bus journey to get here.

I strongly encourage anyone who is unsure about contemplating University or even a career change, to try out the taster programme because this has set me in the right direction by giving me the confidence to aim high, thanks to Petersens strong ethos in helping students work set skills and Go Wales commitment.

A new proposal could see the development of a metro link between the city centre and Cardiff Bay.

What wonderful news by Sion Barry in today’s Western Mail. Our Business Minister Edwina Hart is considering the proposal by the board of the financial and professional services enterprise zone in Cardiff for a new City-Bay metro transport system linking together our city’s various business hubs!

We must sort out our transport system if we are going to attract inward investors and visitors to our great city. With the news of rail electrification to South Wales, and hopefully a more practical approach to the problems faced by our airport, together with the support of a City Region approach to planning and inward investment, we really do have a chance to promote our region to the world. But this will only work if we sort out our increasingly troublesome inner city transport.

All rate payers in the city, whether business or private, deserve an improved transport system. Go to Munich, Paris, Dublin or any major European city, and you see the impact of a well thought out, practical transport system, with rover tickets covering all methods of public transport.

Just imagine in a few years if you could arrive from say Australia, catch the  new rail link from Heathrow to Cardiff, get off the train and move to another platform to get on to your metro link to an office in the Bay, having bought your ticket in Heathrow – saving possibly hours off the current journey time! It’s a great image and would do so much to help those interested in promoting our city and region to the world.

It would also satisfy a lot of unhappy residents and business people already living and working here!

Good luck, Minister – let’s hope funds can be found to make this proposal a reality!

I feel at last that there is a real impetus being directed at our transport infrastructure in the City Region. The recently published and long-awaited preferred strategy for the Local Development Plan for Cardiff referred to the vital importance of improving road, rail and air transport to, from and within the City Region. We now have the last crucial part of the jigsaw being considered: the airport.

As Sion Barry states in today’s Western Mail Business section, the Western Gateway project chaired by entrepreneur Rudi Plaut (whom I know well and whose experience is considerable) recently submitted plans to the Department of Transport for the development of the Cardiff Airport as a Hub.

It seems to me that we should really support what is a low-cost option for the Airport’s future. With the improved rail links already planned between South Wales and Heathrow, and the electrification scheme, for as Sion states a “modest” £280 million investment in a new terminal and expanded runway Cardiff could increase its current passenger numbers of 1 million to equal Bristol’s 5.7 million!

This “modest” sum could be raised by Welsh Government, and commitment from Airport owners Abertis. With other local rail/road links in the region being planned Cardiff can become a significant Hub airport for the UK.

The numbers as Sion mentions are really exciting. Every year 1.7 million passengers living in South Wales fly out of London airports. 738,000 take flights from Bristol and 112,000 from Birmingham. Indeed, living close to the M4 I feel very frustrated when I travel by air that once on the motorway I turn left to Bristol, and not right to Rhoose!

The Silk report  recommending the devolution of air passenger duty to the Welsh Government will be published this week, and a submission to the Davies Commission set up by the Prime Minister to consider provision of greater airport capacity is also due soon. The timing is right for everyone involved to seize this opportunity and make our airport a key part of the City Region transport offer to citizens, visitors, airlines and inward investors.

Timing is everything in life. Let’s hope our masters realise this and support strongly the promotion of Cardiff Airport as a Hub airport for the UK.

 This morning we were joined by Julie Lydon, Vice Chancellor of the University of Glamorgan, who discussed the vital importance of the Higher Education sector to Wales’ economy, as well as the impact of recent “seismic shifts” in the market on students, employers and institutions.

Having been a graduate, lecturer, and on the senior management team at two previous institutions, Julie is exceptionally experienced on “both sides of the business-university fence”. Higher Education (HE) is a major employer across the UK, and the University of Glamorgan is no exception; encompassing 2500 staff over 6 sites, the institution has a turnover of £150million. Yet the economic impact of the HE sector reaches further than this. Julie stated that for every £1 of funding from the Government, Welsh students contribute £5.60. While Julie was keen to stress that universities are not businesses, with this in mind, they must run “in a businesslike way”.

The University of Glamorgan’s acute understanding of the business world is indeed one of its strongest selling points. Founded in 1913 (and celebrating its centenary next year), combining academic excellence with understanding the needs of employers is “part of its DNA”. Successful universities need to work with employers and provide the courses that they are looking for.

However, a degree is “only part of making an employee”. Work experience was one of the university’s founding principles, and remains “vital”. For students unable to partake in industry placements, the Glam Edge programme and investment in the “student experience” as a whole encourage Glamorgan graduates to develop the skills and awareness to succeed in their chosen industries. And they are succeeding: 93% of Glamorgan graduates are in employment or further study after 6 months, the highest rate of any Welsh university.

However, Julie is aware of the fundamental changes to the sector, and the need for institutions to adapt and grow accordingly. The changes in tuition fees led to an expected reduction in applications, with 54,000 fewer students entering HE across the UK, costing the sector an estimated £1billion. While nobody currently knows if this is a “blip”, Julie is confident that it is at least a trend.

With this in mind, Wales’ HE institutions need to “stop looking inwards”, and consider how they can compete on a national and international stage. Next year Glamorgan takes a bold step towards this by merging with the University of Wales, Newport. Partnering a Russell Group, research-minded university with an employability-focused university is a “powerful pitch”, which will help the new institution “take on the big players” in metropolitan regions across the UK. More than this, it will enable traditionally “underserviced” regions in both the heart of Cardiff and across the Valleys to access HE and the benefits it brings.

In a climate that often asks “what the point of going to university is” these days, Julie’s discussion and inspiring examples underscored that there are always more opportunities for those with degrees than those without. Unlocking this potential benefits not the individual, their future employers, and undoubtedly Wales’ economy too.

Obama thanked his family on securing a second term as President of the United States.

I along with millions of people worldwide was fascinated by the US presidential election, and the extraordinary campaign which preceded it. The mix of social media and local door to door canvassing up to yesterday in the key swing states and districts will have been of great interest to every marketing and PR professional. Predictions and forecasts were being updated hourly and while I did not stay awake to see the President tweet “Four more years” at around 4am this morning I was delighted to embrace a true victory for democracy.

As President Obama said in his speech to his supporters this morning in Chicago, many people in the world fight for the right to vote as millions of Americans have done over recent days. With over 300 million American citizens having a choice, it does demonstrate the power of democracy in one of the world’s greatest economies.

We citizens of the United Kingdom too have this right, to vote for those who are prepared to sacrifice long hours and no doubt many sleepless nights to represent our views and change of way of life for the better. I admire them all (with a few exceptions!) and thank them for their dedication and commitment!

I would have voted for Obama if I had been allowed to. He projects himself as a person in touch with his people and expounds the family values he so obviously cherishes, even thanking his wife Michelle and his daughters in his victory speech for their help in this campaign. He also revealed his “ordinariness”, showing that even the First Family of the US perhaps disagrees on some issues. He finished his speech by referring to an obvious family debate relating to more family pets, commenting, “but one dog is probably enough!” I know the feeling, as we are currently considering whether to take in another rescue collie dog to keep our “super pooch” Jack company – although he is quite happy being the centre of attention!

Let’s hope Obama can complete the work started in his first term and bring America back into prosperity for all our benefits.

How can anyone not be alarmed by comments in the Western Mail yesterday about Wales’ obesity epidemic?

Firefighters have been called in to help paramedics move obese patients

Firstly, the news that more than half of adults in Wales are overweight or obese.

And secondly, the shocking reports that Welsh Fire and Rescue service were called into action 110 times in the last five years for “bariatric assists” – where paramedics needed help to move patients because of their weight.

With additional reports that 21% of 15-year-olds in Wales are overweight or obese this crisis must be addressed without delay. We now are not far behind the US, with a growing obesity problem in our young people.

The costs to the nation are already huge, and it can only get worse. We must encourage our young citizens from an early age, to eat more sensibly and be given guidance on what is best for them. Make healthy eating fun, rather than a chore; encourage, incentivise and get more role models to promote better food habits.

Coupled with the lasting legacy of the Olympics, lets inspire our young people to look after themselves and take part in sport, not necessarily to win, but to see that participating is fun. Encourage our Olympic heroes to visit schools and youth clubs to promote healthy eating alongside motivating youngsters to take up sport.

Finally, reward those who take up the challenge and celebrate their success.

Unless this issue is addressed very soon by health professionals and government, this time bomb will explode within a decade, and the costs both financially and socially will be unfathomable.