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Mayor Steve Rotheram launches new Skills Action Plan to help employers fill record number of job vacancies across Liverpool City Region

  • Vacancies hit 20,000 per week in December – compared to 12,000 before the pandemic
  • Metro Mayor launches Skills Action Plan to help employers fill vacancies
  • Unified plan to “connect a highly-skilled pool of local workers with well-paid, secure jobs”
  • City region’s economic recovery better than forecast

Liverpool City Region (LCR) Mayor Steve Rotheram has launched a new Skills Action Plan to help employers meet a record increase in job vacancies since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The strategy follows the unveiling of an ambitious £9.4m training and careers programme in December that will radically expand the Mayor’s award-winning Be More apprenticeship portal, help plug skills gaps and support up to 10,000 people next year.

Increased demand for people to fill job roles pushed recruitment advertisements to a high of 20,000 per week in December last year – up from a pre-pandemic figure of 12,000, according to the annual LCR Skills Report.

Although the region’s economic recovery is currently better than was forecast employers continue to face a tough time recruiting experienced staff.

Culture and tourism businesses have been particularly hard hit by lockdowns while the health, care, digital and logistics sectors are experiencing fierce competition for staff and rising salary demands.

The action plan for 2022/23 aims to reskill the city region workforce – young people in particular – and to help employers adapt to new post-COVID ways of working and find the qualified and experienced staff they need.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:

“Our region’s people will always be its most precious resource and I want to do everything possible to put them in a position to succeed. Having started my career as an apprentice, I know the life-changing impact that decent training opportunities and good careers advice can have – I want everyone to have the same chances to succeed.

“For far too long, people in our region have been held back not by a lack of talent, but a lack of opportunity. A lack of joined up thinking has too often stifled us. Through the Combined Authority we’re putting that right with unified skills plans like this.

“We know that the journey to economic recovery can’t and won’t be made overnight. But we’re taking significant steps now to invest in our region’s future by identifying the skills we need for the jobs in years to come. By doing that hard work now, we’ll be able to connect a highly-skilled pool of local workers with well-paid, secure jobs.”

The pandemic has created a number of trends in employment which are expected to continue, including an increase in office/home-based working, the Skills Report said.

Employers are increasingly required to play an expanded role, with a change in focus from efficiency to resilience.

Businesses will need to adapt to new trends and the training support they require will also need to change.

The city region is narrowing gaps to national levels in employment, unemployment and economic activity.

But the economic crisis threatens to worsen a longstanding issue with low qualification rates, in which the city region lags behind nationally.

In particular, women, people from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds and those with a disability will require additional focus and support.

However, it is anticipated that job opportunities will be available in the Liverpool City Region’s priority areas and projects – such as retrofitting homes, the move towards the use of hydrogen as a fuel source and the pioneering Glass Futures project in St Helens, which is aimed at the decarbonisation of energy-intense industries.

The Skills Action plan was approved by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority at a meeting on March 4.

Joanne Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool and Combined Authority Portfolio Holder for Education, Skills, Equality and Diversity, said:

“The economic crisis caused by the pandemic has been incredibly challenging for people and businesses in the City Region.

“This has exacerbated a number of the longstanding issues we face, with women, people from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds and those with a disability in particular requiring additional focus and support.

“Getting a job, training or apprenticeship is absolutely life changing but too often we hear of people who find it hard to access opportunities. We are determined to support businesses and people so that both can thrive.”

Asif Hamid, Chief Executive of The Contact Company and chair of the Liverpool City Region Skills Board, said:

“It is vital that we tackle the skills gap as having an experienced and qualified workforce will be key to us making devolution a long-term success and growing our economy.

“Prior to this Covid-19 economic crisis, the City Region was performing well, and seeing increases in employment and decreases in unemployment and economic inactivity.

“We have made progress in supporting more people into work, improving the qualifications and skills of our residents, and broadened our work with employers to identify, communicate and respond to skills needs.

“We need to ensure that this momentum is sustained, to improve the productivity of businesses and prosperity of residents.”