Region’s firms fears over skills shortage

Damian Waters, CBI North West
Damian Waters, CBI North West
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More than half of businesses in the North West fear they will not be able to recruit enough high-skilled workers to succeed in the future, according to the 2015 CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey.

This year’s UK-wide survey, which included 102 firms which employ people in the North West – found that 67 per cent of firms in the region need more highly skilled staff, particularly in key sectors such as science and engineering, construction and manufacturing. But 51 per cent are not confident that they will be able to find the high-level skills needed to meet demand and grow. Businesses are already reporting real problems in recruiting people with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills – with 21per cent currently struggling to employ graduates with sufficient STEM skills.

Damian Waters, CBI Regional Director North West, said: “While the North West economy continues to make headway we must be on our guard as local growth risks being undermined by a shortage of the higher-level skills businesses need to get on, and the situation is only set to get worse.

“High-growth, high-value sectors, with the most potential are under the most pressure, like science, engineering, digital and manufacturing. We must make sure that our education and skills system is truly responsive to the needs of business and that young people receive much better careers advice, if we are to propel the North West economy forward in the years ahead.”

More, and better quality apprenticeships are part of the answer - and employers are stepping up to the skills challenge.

“Sixty nine per cent of firms responding to the survey intend to expand their apprenticeship programme or start one in the next three years - the best result since the survey began in 2008. 

Across England 78 per cent of businesses are not satisfied with the current performance of careers advice in schools and colleges.

Business also wants to see universities doing more to improve the business relevance of undergraduate courses and help students become job-ready if the challenge is to be met.