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Tight labour market remains a barrier to growth

The tight labour market continues to be a major barrier to businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire being able to grow.


That’s the view of Corin Crane, the Chief Executive of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, on the back of the latest figures that show the unemployment rate rose to four per cent.


He said that, despite the small rise, recruitment and skills remain one of the blockers to growth.

Corin said: “It’s a tough world out there for businesses. Our region remains a strong performer economically but we knew through our conversations with companies that they are facing serious issues. Recruitment and skills are still very high on that list.

“In fact, we hosted a roundtable event with businesses in the last few days and, despite trying to steer the conversation in a range of directions, it almost always came back to difficulties in recruiting.


“When we undertook research for the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) I was amazed at just how many companies were telling us that they had full order books but that a lack of trained staff was holding them back from making the most of those opportunities.


“It’s an issue that requires short, medium and long-term solutions in order to allow businesses to recruit in the here and now but, also, to make sure we have an economy that has the right skills to equip us for the future.”


Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Despite unemployment remaining low, we hope that today’s 0.2 percentage point increase is a blip rather than a sign of a deeper trend. We remain concerned about the persistent tightness in the labour market, adding to the costs and difficulties facing businesses.


“Staff shortages continue to damage growth and business activity. Our research shows that three quarters of firms (73%) are facing skills shortages, and in some cases, this means turning away new business.


“Fierce competition for skills, wage demands and candidates’ expectations leave many businesses with job vacancies they can’t fill. All of this, on top of rising interest rates, and stubbornly high inflation, makes it a perilous environment for business.


“The Government must support more people back into work and create the right conditions for employers to invest in staff training and development, which takes time.


“Firms need action now to fix the short-term issues they face in staff recruitment and retention. If employers cannot recruit and train from their local or national labour market, a flexible, efficient and affordable immigration system is crucial and must be a priority to stop wage inflation and get the UK back to healthy growth.”

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