Skills shortage is affecting Cheshire as employment figures show little movement in region

By Rich Wilcock

14th Mar 2023 | Employment

Skilled workers across the board are in short supply in Cheshire (Image - Unsplash/Syd Mills)
Skilled workers across the board are in short supply in Cheshire (Image - Unsplash/Syd Mills)

The North West reported a modest increase in the employment rate at the start of 2023. Also however, the report by the Office of National Statistics reported only a small decrease in the unemployment rate during the same period, indicating that the jobs market in the region is showing resilience.

The region's unemployment rate fell by 0.9% in the period of November to January to 3.7%, the same as the national average.

Economic inactivity in the region – which is classed as people aged between 16-64 not actively looking for work or currently in employment fell by 0.5% to 22.8%, slightly above the national average.

The Government are set to announce a range of measures in tomorrow's spring budget aimed at encouraging people back into work. These include helping boost the amount people can save for their pensions before it is taxed, changing childcare arrangements for universal credit claimants, and helping address the skills shortage.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said of the budget that it was an opportunity to, "plug the skills gaps and give people the qualifications, support and incentives they need to get into work".

But the lack of serious movement in the employment figures for the region possibly indicates that employing the right people for the right roles is still a problem.

The shortage in the area is rather acute, according to Ryan Jardine, managing director of KPI Recruiting, who said: "We are experiencing a similar trend to that in the ONS report, the volume of job opportunities is lower now than in previous months but that probably only tells half a story.

Figure 1: The estimated number of vacancies fell on the quarter to 1,124,000

"It is the skilled market that remains buoyant, in fact, I would go as far as to say the demand for skilled experienced and qualified applicants is greater than at any point in the last ten years. 

We supply both permanent and temporary workers across multiple sectors and there is no doubt in my mind that 'People' is still the number one challenge that organisations quote as being the reason why they may not grow at the speed they would like.

"Whether it is recruiting leaders of industry, skilled engineers, tenacious sales executives or a head chef you don't have to go far to find a local company with skill gaps they are desperately seeking to fill."

For companies, recruiting the right person in a skilled role is proving difficult. For a company like Hydraulics Online in Alsager, which has specialist roles in engineering available, it has been a similar story.

Helen Tonks, managing director of Hydraulics Online said: "Recruiting is extremely difficult. Not only because of the sector we are in, but finding somebody with the right skill set is almost impossible.

"If you throw in the fact that hybrid working is not going away and has opened up opportunities that may not have been there before, and other competitors swimming in the same pool for talent, it's made things really difficult.

"We have increasing inbound demand from across the world, which we can manage but It's even more frustrating knowing that opportunities are missed to work with others because of the shortage in skills."

Whilst the number of vacancies is at its lowest, Ryan does believe that recruitment will pick up.

He said: "I think the area is still in a good position when compared to other locations and with companies having new budgets in April, Easter around the corner and hopefully a change in weather, there would be a reason for optimism."

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