60pc of Midlands firms worried by shortage of skills

More than half of businesses in the West Midlands are worried about funding new recruits with the right skills for their vacancies.

Six in 10 employers are concerned and a third say they have had their expansion plans restricted as a result.

Despite booming demand from customers worldwide, 15 per cent of businesses in the West Midlands are struggling to hire and say they have lost out on new customers or contracts.

In research for learning company Pearson, YouGov found major concerns about recruitment.

Pearson is calling for local leaders to have more say over local skills provision and provide funding to local training businessess, following a recent consultation with educators and employers across the country

It commissioned former training and skills Minister Anne Milton to speak with educators and employers in the West Midlands to find out what more can be done to help the region break its skills deadlock with local talent not filling the record level of vacancies which exist.

In a series of recommendations to be presented to the Government the consultation concluded that:

* Extending training funding to those looking to reskill, not just upskill, will help meet the rapidly changing needs of firms in the region.

* Currently only those without a Level 3 qualification can have access to the funding entitlement to take a Level 3 course – this needs to change so that those with a Level 3 qualification already can also have the opportunity to reskill.

* Giving local leaders more say over cash for training will make sure the education and training system works better for employers and jobseekers in the region.

* The post-16 system risks misalignment with the demands of the labour market and needs to be more agile to respond to shifting skills and employment patterns. The level 3 reforms could exacerbate this by removing high quality qualifications that are recognised and valued by employers.

Donna Ford-Clarke, product director for BTEC, apprenticeships and digital services ,at Pearson, said: “Tech and business advances have accelerated because of Covid. Rather than preparing for the economy of the future in 2030, we have to get ready for it today.

“Enterprising firms in the Midlands are ready to make the most of global opportunities and take on new staff, we just need to make sure hardworking people in the West Midlands and elsewhere have the training options they need to be match fit.

“People in the West Midlands know what the their region needs. Giving local leaders the tools and funding to provide the right training, and making it simpler for jobseekers to apply, will see the region thrive.”

Nearly half of people in the West Midlands say costs would prevent them starting a new course, yet since April people looking to boost their skill have been able to apply for new Government funding through the Lifetime Skills Guarantee which offers courses in a range of subjects from building and construction, child development and wellbeing to health and social care.

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