‘Skills shortages are hampering Sheffield City region’s growth’

18 June 2017....... Sheffield City Region Quarterly Economic survey debate. L-R Sharon Beck, Louisa Harrison-Walker, Alistair Cunningham,Julia Bloomer, Greg Wright and Nigel Brewster. Picture Scott Merrylees
18 June 2017....... Sheffield City Region Quarterly Economic survey debate. L-R Sharon Beck, Louisa Harrison-Walker, Alistair Cunningham,Julia Bloomer, Greg Wright and Nigel Brewster. Picture Scott Merrylees
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THE skills deficit is causing headaches for many Yorkshire bosses who want to make their mark on the world stage, a major business event was told.

The lack of skilled labour remains a major concern for the Sheffield City Region’s businesses, according to the latest quarterly economic survey (QES), which is organised by the region’s chambers of commerce.

18 June 2017....... Sheffield City Region Quarterly Economic survey debate. Picture Scott Merrylees

18 June 2017....... Sheffield City Region Quarterly Economic survey debate. Picture Scott Merrylees

A spokesman said: “A consistent trend each quarter is that, while over half of manufacturing and service firms have tried to recruit, and the majority expect to increase their workforce in the near future, they experience difficulties in finding the right candidates for the roles.”

The survey found that the main reason for 46 per cent of firms failing to recruit in the last year was because the candidates lacked the necessary skills, especially for manual and technical jobs and managerial and professional roles. However, more than 50 per cent of firms who responded to the survey said they were willing to invest in training.

Sir Nigel Knowles, the chairman of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which supports the QES, said: “We know we have an amazing pool of willing and conscientious employees.

“But it’s no secret that more, and perhaps more up-to-date, skills are needed to underpin the growth that is emerging. “We are tackling the shortages that businesses tell us are hampering growth in the region.

18 June 2017....... Sheffield City Region Quarterly Economic survey debate.Louisa Harrison-Walker. Picture Scott Merrylees

18 June 2017....... Sheffield City Region Quarterly Economic survey debate.Louisa Harrison-Walker. Picture Scott Merrylees

“Employees are drawn to the bright lights and lifestyle of other cities after a couple of years in their first job, but it’s time for businesses to shout about the attractions of the region, and doing business here, to make it more appealing to them.”

The survey’s findings were discussed by a panel of business leaders at a breakfast event which was held at The Source, near Meadowhall, and chaired by Greg Wright, The Yorkshire Post’s Deputy Business Editor.

Afterwards, Louisa Harrison-Walker, the managing director of Sheffield-based recruitment firm Benchmark Recruit, who was one of the panellists, said the city region had a very complicated geography and “the reality in Doncaster is very different from the reality in Sheffield”.

She added: “We’re a university city here. In Doncaster, they lose their 19-year-olds and they never come back.

18 June 2017....... Sheffield City Region Quarterly Economic survey debate. Julia Bloomer. Picture Scott Merrylees

18 June 2017....... Sheffield City Region Quarterly Economic survey debate. Julia Bloomer. Picture Scott Merrylees

“In Sheffield, we have graduates from outside the area who don’t see the opportunities available for them, so they leave the region and take their skills with them.

“The fact that there are so many micro-SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) makes it very difficult for every little business to engage, and have their voice heard. That’s the real challenge in this region.”

Another panellist, Sharon Beck, the managing partner at Taylor Bracewell LLP, said: “We have to train people and invest in them. We work very hard to ensure that everybody’s contribution, from top to bottom, is recognised and respected.”

Julia Bloomer, the chairman of the Rotherham Business Growth board, who was also on the panel, said she believed emotional intelligence should be taught in schools and valued in the workplace.

18 June 2017....... Sheffield City Region Quarterly Economic survey debate. Sharon Beck. Picture Scott Merrylees

18 June 2017....... Sheffield City Region Quarterly Economic survey debate. Sharon Beck. Picture Scott Merrylees

She said: “It eases the path to discussions that are usually beneficial.”

The other speakers included Scott Knowles,the chief executive of East Midlands Chamber, Nigel Brewster, the vice-chairman of Sheffield City Region LEP, Alistair Cunningham of the Bank of England and Dr David Littlewood of Sheffield University Management School.

AROUND 80 per cent of manufacturing firms and 68 per cent of service firms in the Sheffield City Region awarded pay rises over the last year, according to the latest quarterly economic survey.

The survey also found that a high proportion of firms in both sectors reported that the main incentives they offer to recruit candidates, and retain staff, are personal and professional development training and bonuses.

Professor Andrew Simson, of Sheffield University Management School, who analysed the responses, said the results showed an encouraging and mainly positive continuation from the last quarter.

He added: “Business sales continue to grow and the expectation over the next three months is still positive for both domestic and international trade.”

The next survey will take place between August 21 and September 11.

To read the Q2 2017 QES results and take the Q3 survey visit: screconomy.org.uk/survey