This paper developed in partnership with Four Cymru and the independent evaluators Wavehill, is a follow-up to the Marchnad Lafur Cymraeg project. The aim was to develop the outputs of the clusters which were created and to expand on the substantial research completed during the project’s duration. As part of the project numerous discussions were held with stakeholders and institutions to discuss the relationship between the economy and the Welsh language. However, confusion was frequently noted while discussing the relationship. The link between language, work and young people was often raised during our discussions but with no clear solution how to improve the situation. The project’s work naturally developed to concentrate on the community and foundational economy as it was seen to be a tangible output for the pilot. This raised further questions about the effect of outward-migration and inward migration on communities and the relationship this has with the economy and the language.
With the research completed, it became obvious that there is a disparity between examples of grassroots good practice and the research available to verify this. Numerous examples were had of businesses or organisations having a positive influence on linguistic forecasts in the wake of their linguistic requirements e.g. Gwynedd Council’s language policy. But it was not possible to fully gauge this without robust research. In order to be able to expand on this, the recommendations of the Marchnad Lafur Cymraeg’s new research needs to be looked at in a way which could influence strategy and structural policy by using research and current statistics which can demonstrate means of improving the situation of the Welsh language in our rural communities.
Further research in this field will contribute towards verifying work already completed by the Marchnad Lafur Cymraeg project and attempt to analyse the real effect economic changes will have on revitalising the Welsh language.
Summary of the Recommendations
Following work on the Marchnad Lafur Cymraeg project, findings were compiled and a range of policy recommendations and further work in the field were presented.
Recommendation 1 – Raising the profile of the Economy’s value to the viability of the language – a greater understanding is required within governments of the economy’s value to the viability of the language when forming linguistic strategy. Awareness should be raised about the difference between the definition of the Language and the economy and Language Economy in order to ensure that we mainstream economy as the basis for linguistic strategies in Wales and that the Welsh language is included in every aspect of policy.
Recommendation 2 – New Research – research into the relationship between the language and the economy is very sparse. Further research could strengthen the subject’s value as a means of broadening the use of Welsh in our communities. More academic understanding is needed in order to be able to influence policy rather than analysing former research which is no longer relevant. Comprehensive research into the influence of the language and the economy in Wales would be able to create more favourable conditions for the language in the business sector and Wales would be a world leader in the relationship between minority languages and the economy.
Recommendation 3 – Arfor Councils to follow Gwynedd Council’s example – Carmarthen, Ceredigion and Isle of Anglesey councils should follow Gwynedd Council’s example by making Welsh the council’s administrative language. Gwynedd Council’s decision to introduce this policy in the early 1980s is one of the main reasons why Gwynedd is the main stronghold of the Welsh language today. The county councils should aim to emulate this policy as a part of the Arfor scheme. By operating in Welsh the councils create a workforce which use the Welsh language and are able to influence the language of other businesses by procurement schemes and good practice.
Recommendation 4 – Encourage more Welsh medium entrepreneurship – research which has been completed in this project shows that we need to find new ways of encouraging people to be enterprising when developing a business. Although there are supporting structures available there is not enough enterprise blossoming in our rural areas. We should consider how to change the culture which would lead to more entrepreneurial opportunities which use or see value in the Welsh language.
Recommendation 5 – Develop a sustainable Elderly Care Cluster – one of the basic sectors which is under the greatest strain is the elderly care service. It is imperative that the service is able to operate through the medium of Welsh but the format of the service is becoming dated. Creating a more sustainable service which works with our communities to ensure more effective procurement should be explored. There are already specific examples of this community service and work in communities in Wales but a model which works across the whole country should be developed.
Recommendation 6 – Recommendation 6 – Developing more competence – were it possible to invest more time looking to develop new services, enterprises could offer more jobs and services to the community. A number of language agencies were interested in establishing a nursery but without the qualifications to further develop the idea, offering permanent assistance to language agencies to broaden their services should be considered.
Recommendation 7 – Developing a Community Enterprise network – Following the establishment of a Community Enterprise Cluster working group it was clear that it was beneficial to establish a permanent network which will look at protecting the sector’s interests and be a voice for the enterprises. After completing further research into the cluster, a number of enterprises have shown an interest in establishing a network. The structure of the network should be decided upon but it’s important that it remains transparent by sharing good practice and showing the value of operating through the medium of Welsh.
Recommendation 8 – Welsh mentoring scheme – the objective would be to collaborate with other stakeholders in offering a Welsh mentoring scheme which will help establish new enterprises as well as helping community enterprises expand. The scheme would use the experience and expertise of community venture leaders in order to help enterprises which will eventually create new opportunities and services in our communities. What will make this scheme unique is Welsh mentoring which will really understand the needs of communities.
Recommendation 9 – Community Enterprise Models – the possibility of using successful community enterprise models should be considered in order to emulate them in other communities. Welsh examples which have succeeded in revitalising the economy of their communities by community work should be used to find other communities that are interested in establishing similar community enterprises in their areas.
Recommendation 10 – Community Facilitating Officers – A Community Facilitators pilot would look for unique economic opportunities which exist as a result of the Welsh language. There is huge potential when considering the creation of a Welsh medium labour market. The facilitators will be situated in various communities helping with competence as economic schemes develop, such as drawing up grant applications and / or fine tuning business plans. This work will be a local catalyst in creating a new community venture and providing essential local services.
Recommendation 11 – Airbnb ownership – One problem raised in the context of the Community Enterprise Cluster was the increase in Airbnb accommodation holdings available in the communities of the Arfor councils. This was a concern for the cluster due to so many properties being bought by people from outside the area and having an effect on the implications of housing for local inhabitants. Working with the Government before the problem advances further should be considered to ensure that the tourism industry is sustainable while protecting the interests of local people.
Read the report in full here.