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The West Midlands is driving forward the UK’s recovery from recession, but skills shortages could prove a major stumbling block, reports the Birmingham Post. The broad-based economy, which includes construction, automotive, and education sectors, are helping power the UK’s fight back from the global financial crisis.
However, white-collar recruitment firm Hays has warned that the region must bridge the skills gap to retain the momentum of recovery.
Mark Staniland, Managing Director of Hays in the Midlands, said: “We are leading the way in the UK in terms of driving forward demand for staff. Because it is such a fantastic broad-based economy, both for manufacturing and the business sector, I think the Midlands outlook is very positive.”
"There has been an accelerating demand from SMEs throughout 2013 as we go into 2014. I think the outlook going into 2014 is significantly better than it was a year ago, and there is the confidence to recruit permanent staff across all sectors.”
"We are recruiting for IT, manufacturing, engineering etc., but in every area, there are skills shortages, which we are trying to help our customers resolve. In two years’ time, if demand continues, it will be a huge challenge. I do not think we foresaw the demand for mechanical and electrical engineers in the energy sector, for example.”
Mr Staniland said the construction sector had been buoyed by projects like the New Street Station redevelopment, the Birmingham Airport runway extension, and A45 improvements, while education was also at the forefront of recovery.
“A lot of the building industry recruited temporary workers in 2013 and then the confidence to recruit permanent staff gathered pace. There is a +20% increase in demand from the construction sector across all areas, and the demand for temporary staff is 20% up year on year, from bricklayers to quality design engineers.”
“We have seen continuing demand for permanent and temporary teachers. Overall, we have 3,000 temporary workers working for people across the Midlands and we are placing in permanent jobs about 200 people a month,” Mr Staniland concluded.