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Almost half of businesses in South Yorkshire "can't grow" because of skills shortage

Pictured from left to right: Martin McKervey, Carol Stansfield, Ruth Adams, Louisa Harrison-Walker, Rebcca Fielding, Lisa Pogson, Karen Challis and Jon Walker.
Pictured from left to right: Martin McKervey, Carol Stansfield, Ruth Adams, Louisa Harrison-Walker, Rebcca Fielding, Lisa Pogson, Karen Challis and Jon Walker.

Businesses need to work together with schools, universities and each other to help address a skills shortage and enable growth across the Sheffield City Region.

Research carried out by Benchmark Recruit on behalf of SCR showed 43 per cent of firms across the region felt they couldn't grow because they had so called "hard to fill" vacancies.

Around 80 people from SCR companies attended a breakfast event at the Advanced Manufacturing Park this morning (Wednesday) to discuss the findings of the questionnaire and how to help solve the issue.

Martin McKervey, partner at law firm CMS and board member of SCR's Local Enterprise Partnership, said businesses needed to follow the example set by those in Germany and other European countries by speaking to children at a young age.

He said: "I think each of us in business has got a very uncomplicated task - we should go knocking on the doors of our primary schools.

"We just have to keep working at this. If all of us in this room go and speak to children about careers then that could be a lightbulb for the kids.

"There are lots of good things going off in our city region but if we were all to come together as employers then we would benefit hugely."

The event heard from Louisa Harrison-Walker, managing director of Benchmark, who said 500 people had responded to the survey - made up of businesses and job applicants.

She said the survey, which was carried out over a six-week period, had also found that jobseekers would be willing to take a pay cut in return for training and investment in their future.

Jon Walker, also of Benchmark, said: "We have done the research and collated the data but it's all about the actions now to solve the issue. In the absence of our devolution money let's focus on initiatives we can implement - let's just do it.

"There is some great work being done - and lots of it - it's about us now pulling all of that together."

Mr Walker added: "There is a big opportunity to sort it but no single person can sort it alone but if everyone in the region does a little bit we can make massive strides."