Business leaders calling for action over number of vacancies

Shoppers in Ipswich highstreet Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Retail jobs are among the highest number of vacancies - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

Retail, hospitality and health care vacancies are continuing to cause concerns in Suffolk as the number of vacant jobs reaches record levels. 

New figures produced by the Office for National Statistics showed that these three areas had more vacancies than any other. 

Nationally, employment is back to pre-pandemic levels, with one million job vacancies.

In Suffolk, industry leaders say that the Government needs to be doing more to address vacancies in these areas. 

Mark Cordell, CEO at ourburystedmunds BID.

Mark Cordell, CEO at ourburystedmunds BID. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brownn

Mark Cordell, CEO of Our Bury St Edmunds BID, said that the majority of job ads they were seeing were in the retail and hospitality sectors. 

"It's been quite constant since the summer," said Mr Cordell. 

He said he believed that there were a number of reasons for the vacancies including Brexit and post lockdown issues. 

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Some businesses, he said were looking to shorter working weeks in order to keep existing staff. 

Paul Simon of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce. Picture: Paul Simon

Paul Simon of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce. Picture: Paul Simon - Credit: Archant

Paul Simon from the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce said: “Whilst the recent overall jobs numbers are incredibly encouraging for the country’s short-term economic recovery, Suffolk Chamber has been lobbying ministers hard to help address severe shortages in certain key sectors.

"These include the retail, hospitality, land-based, haulage and logistics sectors: all of which are significant contributors to Suffolk’s prosperity. Some of these shortages seem to be the direct result of the pandemic, whilst others have been growing for sometime and have been exacerbated by recent events.

“We agree with the Government that in the longer-term we must develop our own labour and skills pipelines, wherever possible, as that will make us all economically and socially resilient and better able to compete globally.  But we need to be pragmatic as we recover from the impacts of COVID19.

"That is why we are pushing for the Occupation Shortage List to include those sectors under severe labour shortage stress right now for at least the next 12 months, so that they can attract and train up new staff in that time.

"In the case of the land-based economy, we are seeking an immediate expansion of the Seasonal Workers’ Scheme, so that our agricultural and horticultural sectors can be assured that they will have the right numbers of the right workers to harvest their produce over the coming year.”