An improving economy may cause a skills gap for Essex businesses

It is fair to say that, although we are still in a tough financial climate, the longer term economic outlook is a good deal more positive than for a large part of the last decade, and not least for our region. A recent survey commissioned by Essex County Council revealed that more than 25% of employers are anticipating the need to recruit more staff over the next 12 months, with 75% of business hoping to grow their business over the next two to three years. The cross-sector research involving more than 1,000 businesses makes interesting reading as an insight into the general make up of the region’s businesses, but also serves as a warning to local employers who may find themselves deep in competition trying to plug a skills gap.

The largest group of businesses in Essex by sector are wholesale and retail, followed closely by construction and the professional, scientific and technical sector. The latter of these is well known for the difficulties it presents for employers trying to find the best calibre people; the Council’s survey found that the lack of relevant skills and experience were the biggest barriers to recruitment. This trend is not peculiar to our region, with a nationwide gap of highly-skilled workers in these areas. A recent report by the Confederation of British Industry revealed more than half of employers fear they will not be able to recruit enough high-skilled workers to meet their needs over the coming years.

This indeed highlights an important issue for our region’s employers who need to think carefully about how to manage their staffing levels. But, as the seeds of recovery are slowly starting to show above the surface, surely we’d all rather have to deal with recruiting strategies, than redundancy ones.

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