More than 50 per cent of Midland businesses worry about lack of skilled applicants for jobs

More than 50 per cent of Midland businesses worry about lack of skilled applicants for jobs

With the Government’s furlough scheme ending yesterday, new research from Pearson, the leading learning company, has found that more than half (60 per cent) of business leaders in the Midlands are worried about their ability to find recruits with the right skills for their vacancies; with a third (33 per cent) saying that they have not been able to expand as a result.

Pearson commissioned former training and skills Minister Anne Milton to speak with educators and employers in the Midlands to find out what more can be done to help the region break its skills deadlock – local talent is 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 Birmingham, Nottingham, Wolverhampton and elsewhere have the training options they need to be match fit.

“People in the Midlands know what the Midlands 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 (45 per cent) of people in the Midlands say costs would prevent them starting a new course, yet since April 2021 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.

Rhys Davies, Performance and Development Manager, at Tilbury Douglas the Birmingham based building and engineering  company, said: “The construction industry is undergoing a period of rapid change and the move to off-site construction means we see the need to train people to learn skills in areas utilising digital skills as well as those required for erecting pre-fabricated, modular, construction models.  Digital and ground working skills, in particular, will be critical to the industry.

More flexible qualifications that prepare students for the future will help better equip them for the workplace and ensure that the construction industry has a strong pipeline of talent moving forwards.”