British engineering is facing a serious skills shortage. Yesterday, the think tank IPPR published a report claiming that 'an additional 87,000 graduate level engineers will be needed in the UK each year between now and 2020' in order to meet growing demand, but that 'the higher education system is only producing 46,000 engineering graduates annually'. Well as a starter for ten, that maths doesn't look good.
A report out this summer revealed that only 19.5% of Welsh applications to Oxford and Cambridge were successful during the 2011-12 admissions cycle, compared to a success rate of 25% for England and Northern Ireland... Welsh industry most certainly does require that top level expertise if it is to continue to thrive.
During a recent speech to manufacturing industry executives, Business Secretary Vince Cable cited teachers' lack of workplace knowledge as the 'underlying problem' in careers advice and guidance. According to Cable, teachers - predominantly graduates themselves - "know about UCAS forms - but... know absolutely nothing about the world of work."
The Government has no money. Governments don't produce profits. High-net-worth individuals, businesses, pension funds and international wealth funds have the cash. We don't. That's why we must woo them, welcome them, give them a great reason for coming here and encourage them to invest this money in British businesses right now.
Take a look at the UK album charts and it's there for all to see. Out of the top twenty albums, 14 of them are all male bands. Out of the six remaining acts three are solo female singers and the other three are male bands fronted by a female singer. So, here we are in 2014 and there is not one all-girl band in the top 20 album charts.
After water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world. Global consumption of tea jumped 60% between 1993 and 2010 and we now drink more than 3 billion cups a day. As consumers around the world get a taste for different types of tea, consumption is set to continue to rise, particularly in Asian markets.
The inward investment landscape gets more complicated and more competitive by the day. In the first 20 years of the WDA there were only a handful of locations that were actively seeking inward investment - today, virtually every town, county, city and country in the world has an inward investment agency.
A recent trip to China confirmed the atmosphere of hope, growth and belief in a bright future that is prevalent among its people and its business leaders. That contrasts sharply with the current atmosphere in most European countries that, for the most part, seem concerned with an existential threat to their future.
UK businesses are entering 2014 brimming with confidence and with growth firmly placed high up the management agenda. However, while this transition from recession to recovery is encouraging for all, businesses must resist the urge to revert to their pre-crisis way of thinking and instead learn to adapt to the new normal.
2013 is looking increasingly like a year one can split into three very distinct thirds. The first third took us up to May, encompassing the Cypriot crisis and the inconclusive Italian election, sending risk markets into tail-spins and yields lower, and finishing when Ben Bernanke first mentioned the possibility that the Fed may 'taper' or reduce its bond-buying quantitative easing program.
Britain is an innovative, creative nation with world leading industries in engineering manufacturing and services. Our entrepreneurs continue to develop new products that take on the world. Manufacturing's share of national output may have fallen but we remain a major and successful manufacturing nation.