East Anglia: Positive jobs outlook for region

THE jobs market is set to turn a corner with more companies across the region planning on expanding their work force, a new report suggests.

Recruitment specialists Manpower found that the East of England’s employment outlook for the next three months is on the rise compared to a stagnant previous quarter.

But it also warned there is a shortage of skilled workers available to take up new posts.

The report suggests employers are struggling to fill positions across most sectors because many school-leavers do not have the right skills for the world of work.

The issue is set to be discussed at the “Raising the Bar” conference in Ipswich on Thursday. Organised by Suffolk County Council, it will look at how youngsters can take advantage of the growing energy sector in Suffolk and Essex with off shore wind farms and nuclear power plants.

The news comes as the Government announced plans for a back-to-basics shake-up of the curriculum focusing on skills in maths, English and Science to better prepare children for work. This also mirrors the aims of the EADT’s Maths Challenge, which was launched this year after figures showed that Suffolk was falling below the national average in the subject.

The Manpower survey, which found that the East of England’s Net Employment Outlook has increased to +5% from a flat 0% in the previous quarter, is based on responses from 2,100 UK employers. It asked whether employers intend to hire additional workers or reduce the size of their work force in the next three months.

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Nationally, the Outlook is +1% but a north-south divide is re-emerging with Yorkshire and Scotland indicating declines of -2% and -6% respectively.

Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for economic development Judy Terry, said: “We recognise the concerns that have been raised about the skills shortage in the region. The east of England is a world-leading energy sector but at present, we don’t have enough home-grown talent with the necessary skills set to capitalise on the opportunities.

“That’s why we’re embarking on our Raising the Bar programme. We’re working to help meet the challenges of the expanding industries in our region and make sure Suffolk benefits as a whole.”

Ipswich Chamber of Commerce board member and managing director of @work Recruitment Michelle Pollard, said: “We’ve definitely seen a rise in the number of vacancies, especially in manufacturing and I’m pleased because it had been declining at a rate of knots. But we are struggling to find skilled candidates to fill them.

“I think a lot of people are scared to change jobs because of the uncertainty in the market over the last few years.”

Leader of Tendring District Council Neil Stock said: “The energy sector, especially off shore wind-farms, is such a new industry that there isn’t the skilled work force out there yet, but we need to start raising the aspirations of our youngsters.

“Rural infrastructure is also a major problem. It takes a lot of time and money for many young people in the district to get to college or schools where there is education and training. This is something that is easily overlooked but must be tackled.”