Reacting to the latest ONS labour market figures, Paul Butterworth, CEO, at Chambers Wales South East, South West and Mid, said:
“Chambers Wales South East, South West and Mid is pleased to see the UK’s employment rate rise, especially as the economic inactivity rate has also dropped by 0.4%. It is crucial that as many people are contributing to the economy as possible during these difficult times. It is encouraging to see that in line with GDP, the UK is moving in the right direction economically.
“However, the labour market continues to restrict the Welsh economy and opportunities for Welsh businesses. Businesses across Wales, according to our Quarterly Economic Survey, quarter on quarter, have struggled to recruit across most positions, stifling growth.
“Competition for people has also contributed to increased wage inflation, with talent from Welsh SME often poached by larger companies outside of Wales, unable to compete with the wages that they offer.
“Providing more opportunities for Welsh businesses to cultivate and keep their own talent within Wales is crucial, and pushing the skills agenda in Wales should be at the top of any policymaker’s list.
“Wales has a strong infrastructure for skills in comparison to England. The Chamber encourages Welsh Government to work with key players such as the universities, to find solutions that will benefit the Welsh economy.”
Also commenting on the latest ONS figures from a UK-wide perspective is Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, who said:
“While it is positive to see unemployment remaining low, the labour market continues to be incredibly tight, bringing it with it additional problems and costs for employers.
“Staff shortages continue to damage productivity, with many firms struggling to fulfil their order books and turning away new business. Fierce competition for skills, wage demands and candidates’ expectations leave many businesses with job vacancies they can’t fill. Together with broader inflationary pressures, it’s a perilous environment for business.
“The Government must support more people back into work and create the right conditions for employers to invest in staff training and development. Where firms cannot recruit and train from their local or national labour market, a flexible, efficient and affordable immigration system is crucial.”