Welsh-language movement Dyfodol I’r Iaith has backed a call by economist Gerald Holtham for policies aimed at encouragining young people to remain and work in Wales.
Dyfodol states, “The constant haemorrhage of young people from wales, especially from western areas, saps the energy of Welsh-speaking communities and undermines hopes for the revitalisation of the language.”
In article in Welsh language monthly Barn, Professor Holtham draws attention to the fact that Wales suffered a net loss of people aged 15-29 years between 2001 abd 2019. The total population increased by 107,000 over the same period through inward migration mainly of older people.
Says Dyfodol, “This imbalance is certain to be greater in the Western regions. We need robust, immediate action to stem the loss. That is why we support Professor Holtham’s call for implementing a package of measures to make Wales an attractive country for young people to live and create a livelihood, including:
- Further and higher education to be free for students who remain and work in Wales for five years after graduating
- Write off current debts for students who start a business in Wales, along with mentoring support”
Professor Holtham also calls for assistance for young people to obtain housing and to limit the growth of second homes to reduce the price of houses in districts like Gwynedd.
Concerning the Professor’s suggestion that young people from outside Wales should be attracted here to develop businesses Dyfodol recognises the economic case for this but insists support should be conditional on a commitment to learn Welsh, especially in the western regions.
Dyfodol also reaffirms its support for
- Establishing Arfor, a public Agency specifically for the West which would combine a sustainable development remit with language planning to grow the Welsh language
- Implementing the recommendation of the Seimon Brooks report on holiday homes
Cynog Dafis, on behalf of Dyfodol i’r Iaith, has appealed to the new Senedd members to use the Welsh language to the best of their ability as part of their duties. In an open letter, published in the current edition of the magazine, Golwg, the former MP and Assembly Member, calls upon the Senedd ‘s politicians to set a personal example of using the language to support the Government’s aim to create a million Welsh speakers.
Cynog Dafis suggests the following guidelines for Senedd members:
- For fluent Welsh speakers to always use the language normally, naturally, and confidently in the Senedd to promote a balanced approach to bilingualism.
- That less fluent speakers use the Welsh language less frequently, but with the aim of increasing its use, bearing in mind that use promotes mastery.
- Non-Welsh speakers should at least use the language symbolically and consider learning it – as Glyn Davies and David TC Davies did during the term of the first National Assembly between 1999 and 2003.
Cynog Dafis is keen to emphasise that increasing the use of Welsh should not be undertaken as a chore or a duty, but rather, it should be embarked upon with “confidence, pride and joy in the remarkable treasure of our ancient language,” so that the Welsh language is ”promoted and adapted for the requirements of a new age.”
Following the results of last week’s election, Dyfodol i’r Iaith calls upon the new Senedd to ensure, as soon as possible, a dedicated Minister for the Welsh language.
Currently, as in the past, whoever is responsible for the Welsh language at ministerial level is expected to share this work with other responsibilities. In the case of Carwyn Jones, he balanced responsibility for the language with the work of being First Minister. We also saw last Autumn mental health and wellbeing matters being added to the Welsh language as part of Eluned Morgan’s remit.
Heini Gruffudd, Dyfodol’s Chair commented:
“We can’t believe it possible, with the best will in the world, for any Minister to do justice to the Welsh language without a clear agenda to concentrate fully on the needs of the language. Our first demand for the new Senedd, therefore, is to appoint a Minister who is solely dedicated to the Welsh language.
Wales and its language faces a challenging period in the wake of Covid 19, and it is now essential that effective structures be put in place to steer the language towards a flourishing future.
We therefore repeat our call for a National Authority to co-ordinate language planning in Wales and a Welsh Language Minister who is able to dedicate his or her full attention to the regeneration of the language.