Shropshire Chamber of Commerce is producing a new recruitment ‘tool-kit’ to help employers re-engage with people who have stepped away from the workplace.

It comes as companies across the county continue to report problems finding people with appropriate skills to fill job vacancies.

Ruth Ross, Shropshire Chamber’s chief executive, said: “When we speak to local businesses about their most pressing concerns at the moment, two words get repeatedly mentioned – skills, and recruitment.

“We have been aware for many months now that some companies are being held back from taking advantage of growth opportunities by an inability to find the right staff.

“We are currently carrying out important pieces of work designed to tackle the issue from two perspectives - rapidly upskilling the existing workforce, and encouraging experienced people back into employment.”

One of the initiatives involves producing a new Shropshire Chamber recruitment guide for employers, described as a ‘tool-kit’ with helpful ideas for re-connecting with people who have stepped away from the workplace.

Ruth said: “We need to address the fact that – particularly since Covid – there is a latent pool of talent in Shropshire which, for whatever reason, has turned its back on the workforce.

“They may have stepped away completely from a skilled profession, or decided to find other ways of earning a living which allows them to change their work-life balance.

“We know through our recent research that a significant proportion of these are in a position, and are indeed eager, to return to the workplace. The question is, how do we help them to do it?”

She added: “Educating employers about how to engage and interact with these people is key.

“They are looking for a greater degree of flexibility, a different kind of working relationship, and a recognition that some of them - while extremely talented - lack the confidence and belief that their skills are still right for today’s working world.

“Our new guide for employers, available very soon, will offer a tool-kit to help companies re-engage with these people who have stepped away from the workplace.

“We’re not just talking here about those in a more senior age bracket; it applies equally to parents who are seeking a return to work after starting a family.

“With childcare and nursery places at a premium, and certainly not cheap, businesses might need to consider offering more flexible part-time roles.”

It comes as the British Chambers of Commerce’s latest Quarterly Recruitment Outlook reveals there is still no easing in the record high difficulties in finding staff across the whole of the UK.  

The second quarter results for 2023 show that the percentage of firms facing recruitment difficulties has fallen just three percentage points from the historical high of 82% at the end of last year.

While recruitment difficulties are being experienced across the economy, the construction and engineering, and hospitality sectors were the most likely to report problems, the survey found.

Jane Gratton, head of people policy at the BCC, said: “The tight labour market continues to ramp up wage costs, fuelling inflation, and creating huge difficulties for businesses.  

“Firms are being squeezed on all sides. There are more employment opportunities than ever before, but we also have low unemployment, and over a million jobs are currently left unfilled. 

“Firms cannot fulfil order books and are turning down new work. They are caught in a vicious circle where the lack of people holds back growth and reduces opportunities for investment, including in training - part of the long-term solution."