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East Midlands Chamber News

Employment approaching a crisis

Firms struggling to recruit skilled workers, others worried about retaining qualified and experienced staff in a post-Brexit economy and falling numbers of apprentices are driving what threatens to be an employment crisis.


The results of the Chamber’s first Quarterly Economic Survey this year revealed that 57% of respondents had difficulty finding suitable candidates for professional and managerial roles.


More than four-in-ten (42%) struggled to fill skilled manual and technical vacancies. Nearly a quarter (24%) could not fill skilled or unskilled positions and 16% could not find suitable clerical staff.


Two thirds of the way through fieldwork for the second Quarterly Economic Survey of 2018 and the picture appears to have worsened slightly with 66.7% (an increase of almost ten percentage points) of firms reporting expectations that it will be harder to retain and recruit staff once the UK leaves the EU.


And the number of apprenticeships being started has fallen significantly since the introduction of the levy last year – the exact opposite effect of what the Apprenticeship Levy was meant to achieve.


Ian Bates, Sector Forums Manager at East Midlands Chamber*, said: “Retention and recruitment of skilled workers is an ongoing problem for our members according to many years of Quarterly Economic Surveys. With Brexit looming and a decline in the number of apprentices coming through the system, we could be heading for a perfect storm in recruitment.


"The longer-term effect could be extremely damaging to the UK economy as we won’t have the skilled workers to ensure our independent status as a world-leader in global markets.


“We need to find a way of encouraging more firms to take on apprentices, we need to encourage companies to upskill existing staff and we need to close the perennial problem of the skills gap between what business needs and academia provides.”


Finding ways to bridge the skills gap will form a key part of a major employability and skills summit staged by the Chamber and partners later this month.


The Summit will explore how regional prosperity depends on having sufficient skilled staff and why there is a continued shortfall of available skilled labour in this region. It will also explore how the East Midlands can address this challenge to ensure there is a bright future for the local economy and the region’s young people.


Education providers, businesses and policy makers will unite at the summit to discuss practical ways or working together to deliver the skills required for economic growth across the region.


Keynote speakers will include Jonathan Mitchell - Deputy Director, Standards Development, Institute for Apprenticeships, Mike Grogan - Head of East and East Midlands Region, Vodafone, David Hughes - Chair of East Midlands Apprenticeship Ambassador Network and Clare Hutchinson - Area Manager North, Careers and Enterprise Company.


The summit will include a series of workshops, panel discussions, exhibitions and guest speakers, and will have an emphasis on creating action plans to find a solution to the problem.


Workshops will include:

  • Access Generation - becoming the employer of choice for future generations
  • Inspiring Governance - benefits to your organisation of being involved in school governance and the support available
  • Leicester Employment Hub - support for recruitment and training and supporting the disadvantaged into employment
  • Recart – why contingency recruitment is dying.
The summit is supported by the Institute of Apprenticeships, the Department for Education, the Careers and Enterprise Company, Vodafone and Chamber Strategic Partner Loughborough University.
Other sponsorship opportunities still exist, as does the possibility of exhibiting at the summit. For more information about both, visit https://bit.ly/2Ii141e.
The Employability and Skills Summit 2018 takes place at Loughborough University’s West Park Teaching Hub, from 8.30am to 1pm on 20 June. For more information visit https://bit.ly/2Kqv6wm.
The second Quarterly Economic Survey, with its Brexit focus, closes on 12 June. To take part visit https://bit.ly/2LeMKUZ.