Skills and recruitment will be the big talking point for the next edition of Shropshire Business magazine, which is due to be published on New Year’s Day.
Magazine editor Carl Jones said: “Traditionally, when we head into a period of recession, unemployment rises and there’s a growing clamour among a rising pool of workers to find jobs.
“But these aren’t usual times, and despite the omens for 2023 looking decidedly gloomy, reports that we are hearing from businesses right now suggest that the labour market is still incredibly tight.
“So why is this, what are the implications for the Shropshire economy, and what can we do about it? These are some of the questions we will be seeking to answer – with a helping hand from Shropshire experts – in our first edition of the new year.
“We will also be looking into the growing issue of ‘quiet quitting’ – workers who are making a conscious decision not to go above and beyond basic duties – and those who are turning away from five-day working weeks in search of a different kind of work-life balance.”
The challenges facing companies seeking new staff was also the topic of a panel debate on the latest episode of Shropshire Business Live TV, which was broadcast in front of an audience in the theatre at Prestfelde School in Shrewsbury.
Shropshire Chamber chief executive Richard Sheehan was joined on the panel by Graham Guest, principal of Telford College and skills champion at the Marches LEP, and Hollie Whittles from the Federation of Small Businesses.
The first question for the panel was: Why are businesses across the majority of sectors in Shropshire finding it so hard to recruit staff at the moment?
Richard said: “The pandemic has definitely changed people’s relationship with the workplace in many cases.
“We’ve seen many examples of companies struggling to fill vacancies because they can’t accommodate a work from home environment, which has become much more important to many people.”
Migrant labour issues were also having an impact, he said, with Shropshire having such a reliance on sectors such as agriculture, tourism, leisure and hospitality which traditionally rely on access to overseas staff.
Graham Guest added: “I think what we are beginning to see, for the first time in 30-odd years in education, is some businesses – those that can – having the capacity to think further ahead.
“We are talking to businesses which are telling us they need to now project five years. They are asking if we can work with the schools to create a pipeline taking people through school, college and university, and I think that is really positive.
“With work experience, apprenticeships and more, there is a plethora of opportunities for employers to get involved.
“For many employers, they need that person now, not some time further down the line. But there are lots of initiatives going on right now that see education and business coming even closer together to meet this challenge.”
One of the projects is the Local Skills Improvement Plan, funded by the Department for Education and led locally by Shropshire Chamber, which aims to put the voice of employers at the heart of the learning and skills system to build stronger partnership with further education providers.
You can hear more of the skills and recruitment panel debate – plus a chat with Glynn jones from the Bank of England of prospects for the economy - on the SBLTV catch-up player, along with all the show’s previous episodes. See sbltv.co.uk/episodes/