A leading business organisation in Coventry and Warwickshire says the latest labour market figures highlight the struggle firms in the region are facing.
The latest statistics from the ONS showed that the unemployment rate crept up to 3.9 per cent, while the number of people in employment also rose as did the economically inactive.
Corin Crane, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said the mixed labour market figures highlighted one of the key reasons why many companies are struggling to grow.
He said: “In all my years in business, I have never known a situation where so many companies – of all sizes and sectors – are saying that they are in a position to grow but just can’t recruit the staff to deliver it.
“In this region, the Chamber has been undertaking a major piece of work on the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) and we have heard that same message over and over again.
“The latest labour market figures are really mixed and that bears out what we are hearing on the ground.
“We simply cannot carry on as we are and while there are long term issues that need fixing, businesses really do need solutions to help them in the short term.
“It’s vitally important that we get the economy growing and a labour market that works is crucial to that.”
British Chambers of Commerce Head of People Policy, Jane Gratton, said: “Skills shortages and unfilled job vacancies are the stark reality for many businesses across all sectors and regions.
“We still have more than a million job vacancies which are damaging the economy by preventing firms from fulfilling order books and taking on new work.
“Training up our British workforce is a top priority for business. But that won’t happen overnight, and the pain being felt by business is very real and happening right now.
“The most recent BCC survey found that four-fifths of firms trying to recruit can’t get the people they need – this is a huge problem.
“The government can help by introducing more flexible, short term mobility options that don’t require expensive sponsor visas – such as an expanded broad youth mobility scheme.
“When firms cannot currently recruit and train from the UK labour market, then we need a pragmatic approach to immigration policy that fully considers the role overseas labour can play. That includes a Shortage Occupations List that accurately reflects the reality on the ground.
“And it means looking more closely at making use of the skills of migrants entering into the UK. In the past year we have seen a considerable rise in people coming to the UK from Hong Kong and Ukraine, but this has yet to feed through to more candidates available to fill our job vacancies.”