A new report reveals that 45per cent of regional businesses which attempted to recruit new staff in the first three months of the year struggled to find candidates with suitable skills.
The study, by the Chamber of Commerce for Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, found that bridging skills gaps in the local labour market is a top priority of both businesses and the education sector and closer links between the two are needed to resolve the issue.
It also found that more than a third of local businesses do some work-related activity with schools and/or colleges and a further 12% would like to, but many firms report issues with the resource implications this entails and some report difficulties engaging education providers.
And although 34per cent of businesses have revised their training budget upwards in the past three months, barriers to training remain, with cost and time required to release employees identified as the biggest obstacles.
The report is based on evidence collected by the Chamber as part of its Quarterly Economic Survey for the first quarter of 2014. It will be unveiled at the Chamber’s inaugural East Midlands Business and Skills Conference, which took place at Rolls-Royce’s Learning and Development Centre in Derby.
The report concludes that:
Apprenticeship frameworks need to fully reflect the needs of business and be easier to access.
Support is needed to ensure there are no barriers – financially and resource-wise – to businesses and schools working together to provide work-related experiences for students.
Vocational routes should be promoted as a valid and valuable progression route to employment and offered within schools and colleges
A clear link needs to be established between careers advice and the realities of local labour market demand.
Support is needed to promote a greater understanding of the training needs of the region and to create an environment to reduce the costs and increase the flexibility of the provision made available to employers.
Schools and businesses need to work more closely with Ofsted to ensure those schools which excel in providing work-related learning, employability skills and vocational routes for students are recognised within the measurement framework.
Chris Hobson, the Chamber’s Head of Information and Representation, said: “The gap between the skills businesses need to grow and those available to them is constantly highlighted by employers as being a significant barrier to their progress. The aim of this report is to highlight what those issues are and to set out to policy makers exactly what the skills gap looks like and how it can be bridged.
“Failure to address the issue of giving those in the local labour market – and young people in particular – the skills and attributes wanted by those who have the jobs to offer will mean we continue to have high unemployment, frustration among jobseekers and employers and skills shortages in key sectors.
“The aim of this report – and the reason we are holding the conference today – is to bring all the relevant stakeholder organisations together to establish how we can work together in a constructive and meaningful way to address the issues highlighted in it.”