Wales politics

Private sector 'underrepresented' in Welsh Assembly

The Senedd chamber

Private sector workers are "hugely underrepresented" in the assembly, a study has said.

A report from the Gorwel think tank had said most AMs come from politics or the public sector, and do not accurately reflect the Welsh workforce.

It said 44% of AMs had been councillors before they were elected.

The report calls on parties to review selection procedures to encourage wider entry from private firms.

Written by Gorwel's Russell Deacon and Ellen McDonnell, the study also found:

  • AMs give the appearance of "generally" coming from a "public sector political elite that generally lacks business, entrepreneurial and commercial experience"
  • Politicians that have been in government often have little direct experience of working in business and commerce
  • Once elected, few AMs leave the assembly to work in the private sector

The report says that 68% of the overall workforce work in the private sector, making it the largest source of employment in Wales by two to one over the public sector.

But only 16% of AMs were found to have entered the assembly from private firms, compared to 41% who came from full or part-time politics, 14% the public sector and 11% education.

Councillors are "over a thousand times more represented... than in the general Welsh population as a whole", the report said. Only 0.04% of the overall population have been councillors.

"By a large majority, most AMs with a background in politics and the public sector are Labour AMs", the report said.

The authors recommended that being a councillor should not be the main pre-requisite of selection, and there should be alternative routes to gain skills that would be obtained through serving on a local council.

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