The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) today publishes its Quarterly Economic Survey – the UK’s largest and most authoritative private sector business survey.
Chamber Network launches campaign to support the people at the heart of local business community
In every corner of the country and sector of the economy, we hear that access to skills is one of the top concerns of businesses. Our research shows that around three-quarters of UK firms trying to recruit are having difficulties finding the right person for the role with some siting empty for as long as 6 months. In fact, over half of businesses say the time taken to fill average vacancies has increased in the last five years.
Skills shortages put a brake on business competitiveness and productivity. UK productivity growth (as measured by output per worker) has averaged just 0.4% in the ten years since the financial crisis, with the weak levels weighing on wage growth, living standards and overall UK economic growth.
The changing nature of the workplace is also creating new types of jobs that demand digital skills and displace some traditional roles – a quick glance of any vacancy site reveals a whole load of job titles that didn’t exist 10 or even 5 years ago and many employers are revaluating the skills they will need from their teams in the years to come.
Investing in talent will not only benefit individuals and their employer, but also local business communities and the wider economy. This is why the Chamber Network is launching a campaign to support companies to address these crucial issues. Working with government, businesses, academics and employees to help make the UK a more productive, attractive and modern place to work, the campaign will focus on three areas.
Shaping policy through a new Workplace Training and Development Commission:
This UK-wide Commission will bring together employers and academics to identify the barriers to business investment in skills. Focusing on the training, up-skilling and re-skilling of people age 25 years and over in the workforce - those likely not to have engaged in education or training for many years - the Commission will identify areas of best practice for companies and recommend policy changes to government spanning a 10-15 year timeframe.
Showcasing the range of diverse career paths on offer in towns and cities across the UK through Chamber of Commerce Business Showcase Days:
In February 2020, the Chamber Network will be running Business Showcase Days. Focussed on addressing business concerns about the loss of skills from local areas to larger cities and regions, the campaign will support businesses to open their doors to their local communities to showcase the wide range of career opportunities available.
Championing a flexible working culture by encouraging firms to adapt their working practices in order to attract new and diverse talent:
The final piece of the puzzle will be to support business in the recruitment and retention of a skilled and diverse workforce. Our research found a 39% increase in the number of employees requesting flexible working arrangements compared to two years ago. The flexible working initiative will provide firms with the guidance and resources to create modern, flexible working environments for all employees. The focus is to enable firms to recruit from a wider talent pool and retain workers who might otherwise leave the business by helping firms establish their own flexible working policies. As one of the most senior job shares in the country, and huge champions of all types of flexible working, this is an issue close to our heart.
Together our People campaign is looking to celebrate, support and develop the most important part of any business – it’s people. There are numerous ways to get involved so get in touch with your local Chamber today!
Claire Walker and Hannah Essex, Co-Executive Directors at the British Chambers of Commerce