CHAMBER NEWS Summit tackles skills gap question

Gaps between the skills of the available worker pool and the needs of business could be damaging the region’s productivity. Recent research showed that

nearly a third of firms (30%) were struggling to recruit staff with the skills they needed. Over half (57%) had difficulty

finding suitable candidates for professional and managerial roles. More than four-in-ten (42%)

struggled to fill skilled manual and technical vacancies. Nearly a quarter (24%) couldn’t fill skilled or unskilled positions and 16% couldn’t find suitable clerical staff. The figures were revealed in the Chamber’s first Quarterly Economic Survey for 2018. “Regional economic prosperity

relies in no small part on firms being able to recruit sufficiently skilled staff. But in some sectors there are huge gaps between the expertise available and the needs of business,” said Ian Bates, the Chamber’s Sector Forums Manager. He added: “It’s essential that we

find a way to bridge this gap and that business works with academia to develop the skills needed to underpin the Industrial Strategy across the region. “A shortage of suitable staff has

the additional impact of creating a competitive marketplace, where employers need to ensure they can provide an environment and competitive salary to retain staff. In addition, we need to address how we can improve productivity levels across the region.”

The Employability and Skills Summit 2018

WORKSHOPS WILL INCLUDE • Access Generation Becoming the employer of choice for future generations

• Inspiring Governance Benefits to your organisation of being involved in school governance and the support available

• Institute of Engineering and Technology Why it’s hard to talk about skills

• Leicester Employment Hub Support for recruitment and training and supporting the disadvantaged into employment

• Recart (Chamber member) Why contingency recruitment is dying

• LLEP Employer engagement in schools and colleges

Finding ways to bridge the skills

The summit will explore how the region can ensure a bright future for young people

gap will be a key element of a major employability and skills summit being staged by the Chamber and partners this month. The summit will explore how

regional prosperity rests on having sufficient skilled staff and, as identified through the Chamber’s Quarterly Economic Surveys, why there is a continued shortfall of available skilled labour in this region. It will also explore how the

region can address this challenge to ensure there is a bright future for the region’s young people. Keynote speakers will include

Jonathan Mitchell - Deputy Director, Standards Development, Institute for Apprenticeships, Sue Lovelock - Deputy Director, Technical Education, Implementation Division, Department for Education, Mike Grogan - Head of East and East Midlands Region, Vodafone, Angela Joyce - Chair of the Midlands Engine Skills Programme and Clare Hutchinson - Area Manager North, Careers and Enterprise Company. The summit will have an emphasis on creating action plans to find a solution to the problem, and is sponsored by the Institute for Apprenticeships, the Department for Education, the Careers and Enterprise Company, Vodafone and Chamber Strategic Partner Loughborough University.

Find out more about the Employability and Skills Summit in the Training and Events section on pages 54-55.

Tax aims to turn white van man green

Revisions to the way vans are taxed are being given a cautious welcome by the Chamber, but with a caveat that Government must not use any change to introduce higher business costs by stealth. The Treasury launched a

consultation recently asking van users and other interested groups how Vehicle Excise Duty on vans should be applied in the future. The objective of the review is to

“incentivise van drivers to make the cleanest choices” when choosing new vehicles. It is suggesting a scheme similar

to that introduced for private cars last year, where essentially there is a flat rate of annual VED but drivers buying more-polluting vehicles pay more in the first year. Vans weighing under 3,500kg

are currently charged a flat-rate VED of £250 a year. In its examples

of how the new scheme might work, the Government has shown this increasing to £255 a year. The review also proposes changes

to the ‘benefit in kind’ taxation of vans where vans are allowed to be driven for personal use over and above to and from work. As with older cars, the

Government’s notes say the Treasury would be looking to make any revision to van VED “fiscally neutral”. Under the proposals outlined,

the new VED rates would apply only to new vans bought after the date set for the changes. Owners of existing vehicles would continue to pay as now. Scott Knowles, Chief Executive at

the Chamber, said: “At first glance, the consultation appears to do exactly what the Government intends, ie, to incentivise fleet and

individual operators to buy the most environmentally-friendly vehicles possible. That is something the Chamber welcomes. “But we will be watching

carefully to make sure that the proposals don’t penalise the operators of older vehicles who might not be in a position to upgrade their vehicles and take advantage of any incentives available under the scheme. “We will also be monitoring

Government and local authority proposals for meeting clean-air targets for towns and cities across the region, especially as Government itself will be guilty of contributing to dirty air by forcing the continued use of diesel trains throughout

business network June 2018 25

the East Midlands due to the non-electrification of the Midland Main Line. “Not for the first time, we would

urge Government to use this opportunity to practice cohesive transport policy so that all elements work together towards a common goal – something that has been sadly lacking to date.”

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