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University to host industry summit online

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SUPPORTING industry’s recovery from the impact of the pandemic is a key priority for the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD).

The University has a track record for working with industry through knowledge transfer, research innovation, workforce development and by providing a ready pipeline of skilled students and graduates, in partnership with employers.

In addition, UWTSD’s MADE Cymru initiative was established to support manufacturing industries in Wales to adapt to the challenges of Industry 4.0.

The initiative, funded by the EU via the Welsh Government, aims to support the economic recovery of manufacturers in Wales by offering part and fully funded training to businesses to upskill staff, as well as research and development that improves processes and products to reduce waste and costs.

In addition, UWTSD and MADE Cymru have organised an Industry Summit to be held online between June 8-10 to inform, engage and inspire businesses during this critical period of post-Covid recovery.

Expert speakers will be sharing their insights including James Davies from Industry Wales, Carol Hall, Regional Investment Manager, Development Bank of Wales, Chris Probert, Innovation Specialist, Welsh Government and Geraint Jones, Knowledge Transfer Adviser at KTN.

The line-up also includes Welsh manufacturers who will be sharing their own experiences, including Tim Hawkins, Managing Director, Markes International, Julia Chesney-Roberts, Commercial Manager, Riversimple, Angus Grahame, Founder of Splosh and Jacques Bonfrer, Co-Founder and Team Lead, Bot-Hive.

There will be guest talks from circular economy expert Eoin Bailey and lean author Daryl Powell and an opportunity to find out about the range of services offered by the University.

Graham Howe, Executive Head of the MADE Cymru project at UWTSD says: “This Industry Summit aims to explore issues and challenges facing manufacturing in Wales so that we can work together with employers to find solutions. 

“We always start with asking a manufacturer what their biggest problem is today and look at how we can help them with it.

“We aim to unravel potentially confusing challenges like these. Our approach begins by looking at what companies need to increase their productivity and competitiveness.

“We aim to lead the businesses we work with through a journey of continuous improvement – a journey that makes the most of Industry 4.0 technologies and their ever-growing digital capabilities to help solve the specific problems faced by each company.

“All of the feedback we receive from businesses shapes our curriculum – we want to produce employable, digitally literate graduates who can contribute to their workplace from day one”.

Alison Orrells is CEO and Managing Director of Safety Letterbox and has been one of the organisations participating in the MADE Cymru initiative.

She said: “It was important to keep innovating and investing to set us apart and come out stronger. It’s been intense but we had a game plan – now it is all about business future-proofing, being agile, collaborations and being adaptable.”

Covid-19 has affected every part of a business and shifted the focus from production to survival.

UWTSD recently led a round table discussion with Welsh manufacturers about the future of manufacturing in Wales.

That discussion found that their outlook is positive about the future.

Manufacturers accelerated their adoption of new technologies to enhance and optimise production.

With many employees on furlough, managers took the opportunity to rethink and invest in better IT, particularly communications, training and diversified into new product areas. They looked to local colleges and universities to help shift perceptions of jobs in manufacturing and demonstrated the career opportunities and pathways available.

They also loosened their reliance on overseas imports and looked for suppliers in the UK to minimise future risk of disruption.

All sessions of the Industry Summit are free to attend and places can be booked on the UWTSD website: https://uwtsd.ac.uk/made/made-cymru-industry-summit/

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Development Bank backs Carmarthenshire manufacturer

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MIDTEC, one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of chimney cowls and flue systems has completed the construction of 2500 square feet of additional manufacturing space at Capel Hendre Industrial Estate near Ammanford, using a £220,000 loan from the Development Bank of Wales.

Formed in 2003 by Managing Director, Trefor Jenkins, Midtec first benefitted from investment from the Development Bank in 2005.

They have since had several rounds of funding from the Development Bank to support growth plans and the next generation is looking to the future with the new additional space being used to house a state of the art ENSIS laser cutting machine, supplied by Amada.

Trefor said: “The ongoing support of the Development Bank means that we’ve been able to grow the business, drive efficiencies and invest in new market opportunities. We’ve also introduced new products including the MidCat, an innovative solution for reducing the pollution created by wood burning stoves and the only one of its kind in the UK.”

“Our latest investment in our technology means that we can now offer a laser cutting service that will help to improve our quality and production processes and save time on the turnaround of customer orders. We hope that this will play an important part in our future growth. Indeed, our turnover is on target to exceed £2 million this year and I’m delighted that my son Thomas and daughter Hannah are already playing a vital role in the business as we focus on our long-term sustainability.”

Richard Easton, a Portfolio Executive with the Development Bank, said: “Midtec is a family run and owned business that is known for its high quality and excellent customer service. With our continued support, Trefor, Thomas, Hannah and the team have created a modern manufacturing facility that has a really exciting future ahead.”

The loan came from the £204 million Wales Business Fund which is financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the Welsh Government.

Loans, mezzanine finance, and equity investments are available for deals between £50,000 and £2 million with terms ranging from one to seven years for small and medium-sized businesses (those with fewer than 250 employees) based in Wales, or willing to relocate to Wales.

Construction company TRJ of Ammanford carried out the building work, while Jamie Reynolds of Cennen Solutions has also been providing strategic support.

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Trainees are the lifeblood of south Wales accountancy firm

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ASHMOLE & CO are encouraging those qualifying from university, waiting for their GCSE or A Level results to consider a future career in accountancy. 

Trainees are the lifeblood of the accountancy firm which has offices throughout south Wales.

James Davies has been employed by Ashmole & Co since 2017 as a Trainee Accountant based in the Carmarthen office. James has steadily been progressing to becoming a fully qualified accountant whilst working with the firm full time. 

He has just recently passed his 10th exam and has just five more exams to pass until he gains his Chartered Accountancy qualification (ICAEW).

As a Trainee Accountant, day to day, James prepares financial accounts for clients, Tax returns and VAT returns for local individuals, sole traders, partnerships and limited companies.

Sharon George, Partner in the Carmarthen Ashmole & Co office, said, “It is important as a profession that we help nurture the next generation of professional accountants. Trainee staff members are the lifeblood for the future success of our firm. We are a local business and are always keen to employ those who live locally.”

James lives in Llandeilo and after gaining his A Levels at Ysgol Gyfun Tregib he gained his AAT qualifications at Coleg Sir Gar whilst working for Pritchard Jones Accountants in Carmarthen. When the firm’s director retired in 2017 the firm was taken over by Ashmole & Co and James has been employed with Ashmole & Co since. 

James said, “Providing a high-quality service to current and new clients is the most rewarding part of the job for me. Providing this reliable service allows local businesses to manage the day to day running of their business while entrusting us to manage their accounts and tax affairs. The most challenging part is the substantial changes to IT in accounting over the last decade and that will continue into the next decade. It’s important for us to keep up to date with current technologies.”

In his spare time James likes keeping physically active at the gym, running and cycling. He is a keen sports fan, especially rugby and is an avid supporter of the Scarlets rugby team.

Ashmole & Co are one of the largest chartered certified accountants in Wales. The rapidly expanding and modern firm often has job opportunities for enthusiastic individuals both qualified and non-qualified within the organisation. 

If you feel you have the qualities to be part of the team at Ashmole & Co, please email, with your CV attached, to AshmoleHR@ashmole.co.uk. Alternatively, apply for a specific vacancy listed on the website: www.ashmole.co.uk

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House prices in Carmarthenshire rise at the highest rate across west Wales

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HOUSE prices in Carmarthenshire have risen by 17.5% annually in the second quarter of 2022 (April-June) to reach a new peak price of £228,609.

The figures have been released from Principality Building Society’s Wales House Price Index for Q2 2022, which demonstrates the rise and fall in house prices in each of the 22 local authorities in Wales.

Carmarthenshire’s double digit percentage rise annually was the second highest across the whole of Wales, after Blaenau Gwent, and coupled with a strong quarterly rise of 4.7%. Ceredigion also experienced a new peak price in Q2 of £274,967 reflected in a 12.3% annual increase and 4.4% quarterly rise.

While Pembrokeshire also recorded a strong 9.9% annual increase in Q2 to £248,172, it saw a slight dip across the quarter by 2.2%.

Shaun Middleton, Head of Distribution at Principality Building Society, said: “Against the backdrop of significant cost of living pressures, with food, fuel and energy prices continuing to spiral, higher interest rates anticipated from the Bank of England, and the collapse in confidence levels across companies and households, there is a growing expectation that the wider economy will enter recession over the coming quarters. Across the UK, these cost-of living pressures have begun feeding through into lenders’ affordability calculations, whilst higher mortgage rates might affect the ability and willingness of households to borrow.

“Such changes appear modest for now, but they are cumulative in nature, and their eventual impact will be influenced by the ultimate extent of rate increases, the resilience of the jobs market and the ability of households to increase income. The housing market in Wales starts from a strong position, as prices have been steadily rising post-Covid restrictions but is not immune to these macro-economic challenges, and the likelihood is that housing demand and property price inflation will ease over the coming quarters.”

Wales continues to experience some of the strongest property price increases across the UK as the average price of a property rose to more than £240,000 for the first time. The new peak average price of £240,635 in Wales reflects an 11.5% annual increase and a 3.1% quarterly increase.

Half of local authorities reported double digit percentage price increases in Q2, with nine areas also recording new peaks. Blaenau Gwent and the Vale of Glamorgan join Carmarthenshire in reporting annual price increases of more than 15%.

Principality’s Wales House Price Index estimates there were as many as 11,900 transactions in Wales in Q2, 9% higher than in Q1 and well above corresponding levels in 2019, pre-Covid. In the second quarter of 2022, sales of detached homes are down nearly a fifth (19%) while sales of flats are up 14%.

For more information go to: http://www.principality.co.uk/mortgages/house-price-index

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