Special Report Relocation: Wales

Article excerpt

Economy

Key sectors in Wales include aerospace and defence; sustainable technologies and energy; IT and telecoms; bioscience and healthcare; financial services and automotive. Manufacturing still accounts for 24% of gross value added to the Welsh economy, compared with 18% in the UK economy as a whole, and provides about 179,000 direct jobs in Wales while supporting many others. Cardiff claims to be second only to London in the strength of its creative media sector. The country has also created a network of innovation centres - called Technium - to help new and early-stage science and technology businesses. The Wales Fibrespeed Project aims to bring wholesale gigabit connectivity to strategic business parks in North Wales.

Infrastructure

London is less than 130 miles away, with the M4 motorway and A55 the primary road arteries. Cardiff International Airport is the major international hub in Wales, while Manchester airport is within reach of North Wales. The Principality has nine ports, offering both bulk cargo and container facilities. Port Talbot's tidal harbour in South Wales has the deepest berthing in the south-west of the UK and can handle vessels up to 180,000 tonnes deadweight. The country's freight rail network is among the most modern in Europe and a multi-million pound Freightliner Terminal has been opened on the outskirts of Cardiff.

Workforce

Wales' population is rising steadily, with the working-age pool on the increase. Average annual salary is 13% lower than the UK mean. Staff retention is among the highest in the UK, and industrial disputes are well below the national average. Wales has 12 universities and more than 8,000 international students. One in 10 students come from outside the EU. In the past two years, Welsh Higher Education institutions have launched 100 new courses and received over pounds 900m of research funding. More than 90 departments are rated four-star and above for research, and 66 departments have been listed as excellent for teaching quality.

Biggest employers

BAE Systems, Sony, Ford, T-Mobile, General Dynamics, EDA, EADS, BT, Next Generation Data, Amazon.

Quality of life

Wales has more than 400 castles, three National Parks and five areas of outstanding natural beauty. Already a noted centre for walking, rock climbing and mountain biking, the country is beginning to be seen as a surfing destination too. …