Tackling the workers’ skills gap is key to future

Author - Courtney Hiles

Date published:

The Chamber’s latest column for The Journal by Erika Armanino, knowledge and research executive.

The Chamber’s latest results of the first quarter of our economic survey showed that businesses experienced fewer recruitment difficulties since the last quarter. However staff costs are a problem for 66% of local businesses and staffing issues still remain a central concern.

We see this across multiple sectors. In healthcare, almost one in three NHS employees are suffering with mental health issues as a result of the staffing crisis. The hospitality sector is facing a historic staff shortage that goes hand in hand with long-term issues brought about by the pandemic. Policing will face a recruitment and retention crisis if another 9,000 officers leave the force this year. Staffing problems are spread across every sector all over the country.

One of the issues related to staffing that numerous researchers have identified, is that the UK is suffering from a skills gap. According to Oxford Learning College, an estimated 20% of the workforce will be significantly under-skilled for their jobs by 2030, a percentage that could amount to around 6.5 million people.

The North East Chamber of Commerce has been working with over 3,500 businesses in the North East on the Local Skills Improvement Plans, which place employers at the heart of the skills system and aim to reduce the skills gap.

The Chamber is also carrying out work with the Future Leaders Forum (FLF), which aims to place young people at the heart of employment. As part of the work that the FLF focuses on is apprenticeships and how to support employers and apprentices in the workplace.

The government recently announced fully funded apprenticeships that will cover the full cost of training for anyone up to the age of 21, in an aim to reduce costs for businesses and to help young people kick start their careers. On top of this, the government has announced an additional £60million to enable up to 20,000 more apprenticeships in 2025.

The Chamber continues to work with local businesses and institutions to reduce the skills gap in the region.

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