Here, five industry panel chairmen advising the Welsh Government outline the challenges and opportunities in their respective sectors:
Chairman of the financial and professional services advisory panel Chris Nott, who is also senior partner of law firm Capital Law:
The financial and professional services sector in Wales employs about 124,000 people.
They include a number of global brands which are major employers, such as Legal & General, Virgin, Deloitte, Admiral, Zurich and Lloyds Banking Group in the south and Moneysupermarket.com in the north.
These international brands are attracted to create jobs in Wales for three main reasons.
The first is our people. Our rich pool of 124,000 experienced professionals is attractive to businesses seeking to grow by recruiting great staff.
The second is connectivity. Cardiff is the nearest capital city to London and, with main line electrification and the Cardiff City Region Metro proposals, transport infrastructure is rapidly improving. Cardiff has also been selected as one of the UK’s “super connected cities” for even faster high speed broadband in the near future.
The third is a joined-up approach at national and local government level. The Welsh Government provides generous support for inward investors, particularly for skills development and works with local government to deliver prompt and flexible project solutions.
The Welsh Government’s vision is to make Wales the most competitive region in the UK for businesses in the sector outside London by 2021.
The aim is to increase employment in the sector to 200,000 within that timeframe and to create the right economic and support environment that will drive and facilitate growth.
A prime aim for the sector is to help sell the attractive Welsh proposition to major London-based companies particularly looking to expand in the UK. Welsh Government also recognises the need to improve access to private sector finance following the credit crunch and is working closely with finance houses including Finance Wales.
The Cardiff Central Enterprise Zone is an ambitious and exciting plan for a £1bn investment focused on brownfield sites surrounding the train station that will create capacity for 40,000 new jobs.
This is the only financial and professional services enterprise zone in the UK and aims to seamlessly link Cardiff Bay to the city centre.
Developers are already creating new office space at Cardiff’s Central Business District and in the coming years businesses based in the zone will benefit from a wide ranging network of support, including transport solutions, links with academia and next generation telecoms infrastructure.
Chairman of the tourism sector advisory panel Dan Clayton-Jones:
Tourism is already one of Wales’ leading business sectors, but has the potential to grow even further in an ever expanding and increasingly more competitive market place.
More than £4bn is generated each year in Wales by tourism, making a significant contribution to our Welsh economy.
But, with even more effective marketing and product development, this industry has the potential to create many more jobs throughout the whole of Wales.
While much is talked about the importance of the emerging so-called BRIC markets (Brazil, Russia, India and China), we have to remember that some 90% of Wales’ tourism business comes from the UK.
That market still has potential to grow and is right on our doorstep. With ever-increasing fuel costs and fears of airport delays, we should concentrate on cultivating our UK market whilst not, of course, ignoring the potential of overseas markets.
Tourism has a role to play in not only generating visitors and spend, but also in raising of Wales’ profile on the world stage for business generally.
When budgets are tight, it is worth remembering that quicker and better returns on marketing investment are more achievable within the UK rather than in overseas markets, where marketing, communications and sales costs are considerably higher.
The tourism industry in Wales continues to invest in service improvement.
Many businesses have benefited from Welsh Government support in taking forward their capital improvement projects.
Whilst Wales is quite rightly proud of its small tourism enterprises, it is now time to consider larger, more impactful tourism development, which will have a far better chance of grabbing the attention of those more difficult-to-penetrate overseas markets. This is certainly something I want our tourism sector panel to look at.
Finally, let us not forget the crucial element which makes or breaks the tourism sector – the men and women who run and work in these businesses. Visitors are demanding ever-increasing levels of quality and service. Welsh businesses have to rise to that challenge.
Those who already are, by providing the best possible skills training, are reaping the rewards. We must ensure that skill levels continue to rise in order to compete with the challenge from existing and emerging overseas destinations.
As we look forward, we must build on the success of the Ryder Cup and other major events to ensure that Wales stands out in this very crowded market place.
Chairman of the food and farming sector advisory panel Dr Haydn Edwards:
The influence of the Welsh food and farming sector is felt throughout Wales.
More than 230,000 employees –17% of the whole Welsh workforce – are involved in the production, processing, service and retail of food. The total business turnover is over £6bn and this is expanding every year.
The quality of our food is recognised throughout the world and our red meat sector is leading the way with major new contracts being announced on a regular basis.
A great deal of this transformation in the food and farming sector is the result of effective expenditure by Welsh Government, especially in the promotion and marketing of food from Wales.
However, there are major challenges ahead and this is why the recently-formed food and farming sector panel will be providing advice to ministers and an independent overview of this important sector, working on specific issues relevant to the development of the sector.
The panel will provide a business perspective to influence policy in relation to food and farming as well as government expenditure.
Our immediate priorities deal with the impact of the food and farming sector on the economy and the development of a set of strategic priorities to strengthen the current position. We also will be reviewing food procurement processes in the public sector and looking at the branding of Welsh food.
New jobs are created by innovative and enterprising businesses and we are fortunate to have seen the development of such companies in recent years.
However, we need to provide the infrastructure and funds for these developments to continue to thrive and ensure that we build on the current successes in the sector.
Chairman of the ICT sector advisory panel Tom Kelly, who is also managing director of Logicalis UK:
Wales features in the design and delivery of some of the world’s leading ICT innovations.
From the embryonic development of Linux and the creation of the Internet Movie Database IMDb, through to the more recent first UK rollout of BT’s 21st century network, Wales continues to be an important location for the ICT industry within the UK.
Currently home to more than 1,500 companies, Wales boasts a healthy mix of dynamic small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and blue chip corporates.
The likes of IBM, Logica, Fujitsu Services, Cap Gemini, The Sword Group, Alcatel-Lucent, Sony and Next Generation Data are just some of the quality technology operations achieving profitable success in Wales.
This is coupled with a growing reputation for secure IT, led by companies such as Cassidian (part of the EADS group) and General Dynamics.
These companies and the wider sector are fuelled by a skilled workforce that today is in excess of 44,000 across a range of occupations. This is bolstered by nearly 1,000 IT graduates a year and a further 2,500 a year in related disciplines from Welsh universities.
As well as people, the wider Welsh ICT sector will also benefit from a next generation broadband infrastructure, high performance computing capability, international academic research excellence and a highly cost competitive environment.
To continue to support the development of this ICT ecosystem, our focus in the next 12-24 months will be centred on further asset exploitation, greater supplier/buyer collaboration, leveraging policy levers such as procurement and stimulating greater levels of R&D and innovation across the sector.
These priorities will be underpinned through a programme of sector specific support to SMEs, a clearly-defined strategy for internationalisation and work with stakeholders to ensure the sector has access to a vibrant skills base.
Our objective is to establish Wales as a “connected” economy with a reputation, domestically and internationally, as a place to start, grow and sustain an ICT sector business.
Chairman of the creative sector advisory panel Ron Jones, who is also executive chairman of Tinopolis:
Around the world, governments are realising that the creative industries are amongst the leading sectors driving economic growth.
The Welsh Government, through its sector approach recognises that the opportunities are there for Welsh people and companies as well. The task we all face is ensuring that we are able to play a full part in global developments.
The sector ranges from software and digital content through music, design, performance and a host of other areas with creativity being the common thread.
We are a creative nation with individuals and companies who are successful in all these fields.
Our challenge is to ensure that no talent gets wasted, that no ideas are unexplored and no company is unable to take advantage of market opportunities. Not an easy task, but this is the ambition and the basis for measuring our success.
Creativity is about more than the economy. Wales has a proud cultural heritage and our creative talent has portrayed and reflected this over the years.
Some of this endeavour will never pay for itself but it will always be valuable in its own terms.
Organisations such as the Arts Council or our public service broadcasters can never be self-financing but continue to have a great economic importance to Wales. Our role is to work with partners to ensure that, over and above their cultural significance, the economic impact is maximised.
The creative sector is diverse, both in terms of the types and scale of businesses.
Much of the growth will come from small, micro businesses and some of these have the potential to become significant players in their field.
The challenge for us is to match what government can provide to the needs of individual companies. We intend to put business support services in place that reflect the sector’s needs.
Our creative businesses face common challenges to growth. One of these is the need to protect and exploit intellectual property – the key product of creativity. We need mechanisms in place to help creative companies of all sizes get the best value out of their intellectual property in the global marketplace.
Too few of our creative companies have serviced the global market. The economic importance to Wales of having our creative companies selling their products and services around the world is incalculable. Widening the horizons of our talent and companies will be a priority for the future.
Sion Barry - Western Mail