Fears of a labour shortage backed up by official figures, says Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce
Fears of a labour shortage in Coventry and Warwickshire are backed up by the latest labour market figures, says Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.
The rate of unemployment remains unchanged at 3.7 per cent in the three months to January while job vacancies stand at more than 1.1 million.
Corin Crane, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said it was in keeping with what companies across the region are saying.
The Chamber has spoken to over 1,000 businesses in recent weeks as part of its ongoing research for the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) which is seeking to find regional solutions to the ongoing skills and labour shortage.
He said: “I have never known a time like it. Businesses are saying the same thing over and over again – that they want to grow, that they have the orders and the work to grow, but they cannot get the people through the door to make it happen.
“In this region, we are working hard with a whole host of partners to try to find new ways to ease the labour and skills shortage. We’ve held summits to look at the shortage in the tourism, leisure and hospitality sector and, only last week, we held a meeting to see how business and the armed forces can work together to ease the problem.
“It is also a massive challenge for Government. Lots of people left the workforce during the height of the pandemic and have not returned and we’re seeing parents having to make tough choices because of increasing childcare costs.
“Our work on the LSIP is vital and will help to set out plans for this region where employers are at the heart of skills provision.
“In the meantime, there is plenty the Government can and must do to ease this problem for businesses and that, in turn, will help the economy to grow.”
David Bharier, Head of Research at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Today’s ONS figures provide further evidence of historic tightness in the labour market.
"Despite a slight fall, there are still over 1.12 million vacancies across the UK. This confirms our own research that most firms are still trying to recruit staff.
“Finding appropriately skilled workers is one of the top issues for businesses, and many tell us that this prevents them from fulfilling orders or expanding. There are several levers which the Government can pull to ease the tightness in the market.
“Firstly, alleviating childcare costs could give greater flexibility to those looking to return to the labour market. The Government’s plan in tomorrow’s Budget to start paying childcare costs on Universal Credit up front is positive news, but further tax relief on childcare costs and reforms to increase childcare capacity are also needed.
“Secondly, there needs to be a fuller explanation of the causes of the significant number of people out of employment due to long-term illness in order for Government and businesses to invest in the right occupational health services. Occupational health services should also be made a non-taxable benefit in kind.
“Finally, as the BCC has repeatedly said over the last year, Government must reform the Shortage Occupation List to help firms fill urgent job vacancies from outside the UK when they cannot recruit locally.”