Thursday, December 1 2022

RAPID reform is urgently needed to tackle the staff shortages crippling businesses across the UK.

The government must take action to encourage businesses to unleash new talent by investing in their workforce and reform the Shortage Occupations (SOL) list to allow more sectors access to foreign workers.

Companies remain under enormous pressure to fill positions, but record levels of difficulty in recruiting show no signs of improving.

Solutions are urgently needed so that businesses can keep their doors open in these difficult times.

The Chamber Network wrote to the government outlining a three-point plan for how they can work with businesses to address this issue:

• Businesses should be encouraged to find new ways to unlock talent pools – by investing more in training their workforce, adopting more flexible working practices and expanding the use of apprenticeships

• The government should help employers invest in training by reducing upfront costs for businesses and providing training-related tax breaks

• The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) must be reformed to allow sectors facing an urgent demand for skills to get what they need. The SOL is not currently adapted and should be more flexible in order to support companies experiencing a national recruitment crisis.

There are 1.3 million unfilled jobs in our economy and there are now fewer people in the workforce than before the pandemic.

This is holding back productivity and growth, and employers are at their wit’s end. It endangers livelihoods and harms the economy.

The government must reform the SOL criteria to include more jobs at more skill levels to give businesses breathing space to invest in their workforce. Employers cannot wait for the appointment of a new Prime Minister before fixing this problem.

Shortages impact not only their ability to fill their order books, but also the morale and well-being of their staff.

Written by Emma Rawlings, Chief Executive of the Somerset Chamber of Commerce

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