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Latest figures highlight labour market shortage

Low unemployment continues to be one of the success stories of the UK economy, according to business leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire.

But the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce say the shortage of skilled people to fill vacant roles will continue to hold back growth.

The unemployment rate stood at 3.8 per cent from February to April while vacancies reached a new high of 1.3 million across the UK.

Sean Rose, the head of policy at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said firms across the patch are struggling to recruit.

He said: “When you think back to the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a major concern that the unemployment rate was going to increase massively.

“The interventions made by the Government and the incredible job that businesses did in the most testing of circumstances helped to mitigate that and, thankfully, the rate has remained very low.

“However, this is having a knock-on effect for businesses who are struggling to fill available roles which is hampering their ability to grow.

“It’s vitally important that we find ways to get people back into the labour market – through flexibility and the opportunity to retrain – while also looking at how we can attract labour from overseas to fill vacant roles.”

British Chambers of Commerce Head of People Policy, Jane Gratton, said: “An increasingly tight labour market means it’s much harder for employers to fill job vacancies – impacting on their ability to operate normally and retain skills in the business.

“The further rise in the employment rate, together with drop in the unemployment rate are good news but they also reflect how little room for manoeuvre there is for unfilled vacancies on the ground.

“With a new record set for the number of vacancies, and no easy way to fill them for many companies, labour shortages are likely to continue to damage the UK’s growth prospects.

“Despite recruitment difficulties, the damage to firms’ finances from soaring inflation and rising national insurance will limit the extent to which wages can continue rising.

“We need to find ways to bring people back into the UK labour market. Flexible working practices, rapid re-training opportunities and a focus on workplace health can support many economically inactive people to return to the workplace.

“But for some roles, where there is clear evidence of a national shortage of skills and labour, firms need access to people, at all skill levels, from outside the UK. As well as issuing temporary and seasonal visas, the UK government needs to urgently review the Shortage Occupation List.”

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