One in five businesses in Yorkshire are struggling to hire staff

One in five businesses in the North of England are struggling to hire.

New polling from YouGov shows more than 20 per cent of firms are losing out on new contracts and customers while a third have had to curtail expansion plans.

Business leaders said that the primary reason for their recruitment woes lay in the shortage of candidates with the right skills for their vacancies. The research, commissioned by learning company Pearson, found that more than half of senior decision makers in Northern English businesses are worried about their ability to find recruits with the appropriate skills.

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Nearly half of adults aged 18 and over in the North say costs would prevent them starting a new course, yet since April 2021 people looking to boost their skills 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, health and social care.

Labour shortages are hampering business progress.

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.”

David Richards, founder, CEO and chairman of Sheffield and Silicon Valley-based data software company WANdisco, said: “Every CEO I know says the UK has a significant shortage of tech talent.

“The frustrating thing is there is no shortage of aptitude – around half of the population has the natural problem-solving abilities we look for in software developers. There is just a shortage of opportunity and this is what we are trying to address.”

Derek Whitehead, Principal & CEO of Leeds College of Building, said: “At Leeds College of Building, we have excellent partnerships with employers and align our training provision to meet their needs and with industry.

“The construction sector is thriving, but there are critical skills gaps in all areas of the industry, with thousands more people required to support the Zero Carbon agenda and the need for many individuals to be recruited, retrained or upskilled.

“With much-needed funding, specialist training providers like us could reinforce the future talent pipeline and bolster the regional and national economy.”