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A Scoping and Feasibility Study for a new Foundational Economy Academy in Wales
This report conducted a ‘Scoping and Feasibility Study for a new Foundational Economy Academy’ in Wales, during the first quarter of 2022. We explored how to effectively enhance the Foundational Economy (FE) capability of public service practitioners and learn lessons from the celebrated Preston Model. The report conducted primary research and reviewed academic and practitioner literature.
All sectors of the economy operate in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous (VUCA) world and exogenous shocks are likely to become more frequent. Public service organisations (PSOs) in Wales have had to deal with multiple challenges including COVID-19, Wellbeing of Future Generations Act obligations, 2030 Net Zero targets, social welfare reforms and Brexit repercussions. These challenges are more acute due to increased financial pressures which manifests into ‘having to do more with less’. Key foundational sectors remain resilient during times of crisis, and the foundational economy offers regional economic stability.
The Foundational Economy in Wales is growing and is of vital importance to regional development. FE implementation capability is heterogeneous, and the principles of FE not fully understood. This report outlines the nascent literature and details ‘what works’ in terms of developing FE capability, in Wales. We propose a FE Capability Development framework. We also outline the lessons from the celebrated Preston model. Its success came from engaging multiple stakeholders to coproduce an ecosystem of local government, development agencies, cooperatives and trade unions to implement community wealth building principles with the University of Central Lancashire providing academic insights and facilitation.
The report recommends establishing a Foundational Economy Academy in Wales to support PSOs to develop FE capability. The FE Academy could develop a repository of content and interventions and act as a quality assurance function. The FE Academy could also contribute to the development of a regional ecosystem that supports public and private sectors to collaborate with policymakers to generate and retain wealth in Wales.
In terms of next steps, we suggest a study that systematically maps and reviews available FE learning content and interventions to develop a robust FE knowledge repository would be valuable. The study could also identify gaps in capability across PSOs to develop interventions, in collaboration with PSOs. A pilot FE programme community of practice would be timely to augment FE activity.