Now is the time for action not words - Warwickshire business leaders' message to the Government

"The incredibly high number of vacancies across the West Midlands is having a critical impact on local businesses ability to recruit good staff and deliver on their order book."

Corin Crane, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce
Corin Crane, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce

Business leaders in Warwickshire say now is the time for action not words from the Government to improve the employment market.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics have today revealed that the number of job vacancies in the economy remains around the highest on record.

Corin Crane, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The low unemployment figures are clearly a positive result, but the incredibly high number of vacancies across the West Midlands is having a critical impact on local businesses ability to recruit good staff and deliver on their order book.

“The stark message is that the local job market cannot keep up with business demand and we need urgent action on overseas visas to give Coventry and Warwickshire businesses time to upskill their workforce and find the right staff to fill vacancies.

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“This is affecting all sectors, and will have a long-term impact on the economy.

“We also need an urgent rethink on how to support our excellent local providers to fill the large numbers of apprenticeship vacancies to ensure we have a good flow of young talented people entering our workforce.”

British Chambers of Commerce head of people policy, Jane Gratton, said: “The labour market remains incredibly tight adding to the growing list of concerns businesses are facing.

"This is a ticking timebomb for firms up and down the country.

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“Today’s figures show little improvement for employers over the last quarter. Competition for skills and labour continues to drive up wage costs.

“Skills and labour shortages have reached crisis point for many firms. The impact is being felt on their ability to meet customer demand and forcing some to turn away new business, because they simply do not have the human resource. This is restricting growth and business confidence. It’s a serious and urgent problem.

“On top of all of this, firms are now grappling with the highest inflation in almost 40 years; the largest spike in interest rates in three decades; ongoing supply chain disruption; and eye watering energy bills. There is a limit to how much additional cost business can absorb.

“The Government can help ease the growing pressure in the labour market at no extra cost to the Exchequer. We need an immediate review and reform of the Shortage Occupations List (SOL) to include more jobs at all skill levels. This will give firms breathing space to train and upskill their workforce. We have over a million more job vacancies than people available to work, so the sooner we start the SOL review, the better.

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“We also need to encourage economically inactive people back into the UK labour market through access to publicly funded rapid retraining opportunities. Businesses must be part of the solution too by creating the right workplace conditions, for example by providing flexible working practises, training opportunities and a focus on workplace healthcare and support.”