Skills shortage looms despite jobs boost

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More than half of employers in Yorkshire and the Humber plan to grow their workforce in the coming year, as confidence in the economy continues to grow.

Permanent positions are favoured over temporary work for the region’s businesses, while younger people could find themselves with more opportunities as apprenticeships and graduate roles increase.

But while more jobs are being created, concerns have been raised that the North is facing a skills crisis in key sectors such as construction, manufacturing and engineering.

Research from the CBI and Accenture found 54 per cent of businesses in the region are looking to add staff, with firms favouring permanent jobs over temporary.

The Employment Trends Survey, which canvassed 94 businesses in Yorkshire and the Humber, also found improving prospects for training and graduate roles.

Almost two in five (39 per cent) companies said they planned to hire permanent staff in the next 12 months, with 34 per cent increasing the number of temporary workers on their books.

Just over half of those surveyed said they will increase their apprenticeship intake in 2014, 42 per cent aim to take on more graduates.

It signals an improvement in fortunes for younger workers, with 85 per cent of the region’s businesses expecting to offer suitable roles for people aged between 16 and 24.

Lucy Thornycroft, director of CBI in Yorkshire and the Humber, said companies in the region are gearing up for a positive 2015.

However, she said improving skills is a key part of ensuring the recovery reaches all parts of the UK.

She said: “We want to see everyone enjoy the rewards of the recovery and Yorkshire and the Humber has a big role in driving the UK economy forward.

“Growth should work for everyone, and skills are the key route to ensuring that this happens through improved productivity and pay.”

Olly Benzecry, managing director for Accenture in the UK and Ireland, said employers must open up “different and more inclusive routes” into the workforce for region’s to thrive.

He said: “It’s very encouraging to hear that businesses in Yorkshire and the Humber are planning to build their workforces in the future by taking on more young people, including apprentices.

While employers look to growth, low skill levels were cited as the biggest concern for businesses nationally.

Two thirds (63 per cent) of firms across the UK said skill shortages were a threat to UK competitiveness. More than half (54 per cent) said this would be the case in five years’ time.

It comes as job site Adzuna reported competition for jobs remains high in the North, despite national figures halving to just under one jobseeker per position advertised across 2014.

There were almost eight jobseekers per role in some areas of the North of England, according to Adzuna’s latest job market report. Hull was ranked the fifth worst place to find a job, with 4.6 jobseekers per vacancy.

At the same time, Yorkshire and the Humber saw the second largest annual average wage increase, at 12.3 per cent.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, said: “By raising advertised salaries, they hope to attract better qualified candidates from other regions.

“Combined with the high competition for jobs we’re seeing in the North, a logical explanation is that employers are struggling to fill positions due to a lack of skills applicable to the sectors thriving there.”

Prime minister David Cameron’s commitment to apprenticeship funding seems a “sensible tonic” for the mismatch in the UK employment market, he added.

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Job vacancies have hit a post-recession high of almost a million, although monthly wage growth is starting to stagnate, according to Adzuna.

Wages are increasing ahead of the rate of inflation, but there were “warning signs” on the horizon, the job site said.

Co-founder Andrew Hunter said: “On a month-on-month basis, salaries have been static for three months running. This is partly down to an increase in lower paid roles, but also due to growing concerns over an increasingly fragile eurozone.

“The recent plateauing may signal a larger and more worrying trend towards stagnant wage growth.”

Administration, customer services, manufacturing, travel and construction have seen double-digit increases over the past year.