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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 August, 2003, 13:08 GMT 14:08 UK
Cash n Curry: Cardiff
Breakfast's business presenter Declan Curry is out on the road this summer, in his trusty white van

He'll bring us the latest on jobs and money from around the UK.

As well as our regular city updates, Declan will be finding out how well some of the UK's major towns and cities have risen to the challenge of a changing economy.

To see Declan's reports from other cities - and read his postcards - click on the links towards the bottom right hand side of this page in our "See Also" section.

On Wednesday, Declan was in Cardiff

Postcard from Cardiff
Declan Curry
for BBC Breakfast

If you've been following our tour around the country, you could easily think we've turned into a nation of innkeepers.

All the redeveloped town and city centres we've visited have had trendy bars and restaurants right at the heart of their plans.

Newcastle had them by the score. We saw them in Cambridge and Bristol. And there was no shortage of fancy eateries down by the bay in Cardiff this morning.

Hull is banking on another type of service industry - tourism. Its underwater aquarium, the Deep, is drawing in visitors from across the North Sea.

St Austell is getting rich by charging people to stand in massive greenhouses and look at exotic plants. Just up the road, Newquay is pinning its economic hopes on trendy young surfers who might want to give up the rat race, and open new businesses there.

All this is in place of things like shipbuilding, coal & tin mining, and train making.

It looks like we've stopped making things for a living, and are earning our money just serving each other.

Declan delivers: The Cash n Curry timetable
Monday August 18: St Austell: The Eden Project
Tuesday August 19: Bristol Millennium Square
Wednesday August 20: Cardiff Millennium waterfront
Thursday August 21: Birmingham: Selfridges site
Friday August 22: Manchester Cathedral Gardens

Some people think that's a very shaky foundation for the future.

Thankfully, that's not the whole story.

Our theme over the last fortnight has been change - why the old jobs we used to do are dying off, why we're having to learn new jobs and new skills to keep ahead, and how that's changing the towns and cities in which we live.

There's no doubt that manufacturing is much less important than it used to be, and that we're a lot more reliant on services like retail and tourism.

In some of the places we've been to, bashing metal and making products accounts for less than 10% of the local economy.

But the switch from the factory shop-floor to the high street shops' floor is not the only change that's going on.

There's still lots of manufacturing around. But it's having to brain up to survive.

Factories are making more valuable products - but are using fewer workers with better skills to do it.

As we saw in Bristol yesterday, there's nothing new about this.

The city could easily have rested on its laurels in the 19th century. It had already produced some of the world's engineering triumphs - the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the railways to London, the world's first modern iron ship.

But its workers kept on learning - and that meant they kept up with change. Bristol's aerospace industry stayed out in front.

It went on to build Concorde - and now its workers are learning again, so they can build the wings and engines for the Airbus double-deck superjumbo.

It means thousands of highly paid jobs in Bristol, and makes the south west a richer region.

It's difficult to generalise, but the broad picture is this: industries that are trapped in the past will die off. We can't match lower prices in Asia or other parts of the world. The firms that survive need to make their business irresistible - by offering a smart product or set of skills that can't be found elsewhere.

We had another example of that this morning. Tower Colliery in Aderdare was earmarked for closure in the mid-1990s. That was the fate of so many other pits - but not Tower.

It was rescued by its own workers - who bought it and kept it alive as the last deep mine in Wales.

But buying the pit turned out to be the easy part. Its owners - the workers - had to keep on changing, finding new business to keep it alive. They've invested heavily in new technology to boost production - and are developing a new form of green fuel, involving coal and household rubbish.

Low costs, efficient operations - and smart products. That's the recipe for manufacturing success nowadays.

And it's what brought the pit that everyone thought was dead back to life - and kept it alive.

  • On Thursday, Declan reports from Birmingham.

    Cash n Curry
    Watch a trailer for our series with Declan Curry

    Declan in Cardiff
    The transition from manufacturing to service industries

    Declan's day
    29 Jul 02  |  Presenters
    Cash n Curry: Aberdeen
    11 Aug 03  |  Breakfast
    Cash n Curry: Newcastle
    12 Aug 03  |  Breakfast
    Cash n Curry: Hull
    13 Aug 03  |  Breakfast
    Cash n Curry: Doncaster
    14 Aug 03  |  Breakfast
    Cash n Curry : Cambridge
    15 Aug 03  |  Breakfast
    Cash n Curry: St Austell
    19 Aug 03  |  Breakfast
    Cash n Curry: Bristol
    19 Aug 03  |  Breakfast

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