South Yorkshire Chambers urge incoming mayor to tackle skills shortages 'holding region back'

Business leaders from across South Yorkshire are urging the new mayor to urgently tackle skills shortages that are holding the region back.

Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 11:37 am

The three South Yorkshire Chambers (Sheffield, Barnsley & Rotherham and Doncaster) made the call ahead of the elections on Thursday.

They have produced a Skills Manifesto which outlines the shortages facing businesses and the challenge of fragmented Government funding which has led to too many skills providers working at cross purposes.

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Chief executive of Doncaster Chamber, Dan Fell, said: “Workplace skills is the single biggest challenge facing South Yorkshire’s economy and residents.

It includes 40 recommendations for a system which drives opportunity, productivity, and wages. It also calls on the new mayor to develop a new skills strategy within 100 days of taking office.

Chief executive of Doncaster Chamber, Dan Fell, said: “Workplace skills is the single biggest challenge facing South Yorkshire’s economy and residents.

“Skills drive productivity and wages and the average output of workers in South Yorkshire is around 20 per cent lower than for the UK – a gap that hasn’t narrowed in nearly 20 years.

“Our region underperforms the UK on most indicators of employee skills, and this is borne out by the fact that South Yorkshire businesses are facing record skills shortages.

“If the output of South Yorkshire’s workers equalled England’s average, the region’s economy (GVA) would be £7.2bn bigger.

“We’ve learned a great deal during the pilot and have included our findings and recommendations in the Manifesto.”

The joint call comes after a pilot over the past year. South Yorkshire was one of eight national trailblazers rolling out new Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIP) on behalf of the Department for Education.

The Chambers consulted hundreds of businesses and worked with other business organisations including the CBI, FSB, Manufacturing Forum, and Sheffield Digital.

Karen Mosley, chair of the Skills Accelerator Board and Sheffield Chamber President, said: “We must release the hidden workforce potential in our communities and that’s why we’re calling on whoever is elected as Mayor in early May to put the skills agenda front and centre.

“Throughout the LSIP pilot, all partners have demonstrated a strong will to work together to bring about change. With the right policies, resources, and political leadership we can address inequality and ensure South Yorkshire is known nationally as a region that ‘gets business’ and that is both enterprise and investment-ready.”

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