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Date: 06/11/2017

10 Chamber Members from North Herefordshire gathered on Friday 3 November at Westons Cider to discuss the skills shortage with Bill Wiggin MP.

Businesses of all sizes and sectors across the constituency were present, as well as the principal of Herefordshire & Ludlow College, and a representative from the NMiTE University. Firms discussed their most immediate labour market concerns, made even more prevalent for a constituency that has under 500 unemployed people and a wider issue with retaining young people in the area.
Every Business Leader around the table expressed difficulty in hiring staff at all skilled levels, with some having vacancies out for up to three months and some remaining unfilled.  The university was seen as a great solution, not only in up-skilling young people, but also in helping to develop Hereford City Centre, however it was recognised that it is not a silver bullet.
While blame tends to be pushed onto the education system for not turning out young people with the right skills or work ethic, firms and education providers expressed concern about significant cuts to funding to the further education sector.
Education for 16 – 18 year olds, the prime age for up-skilling straight out school and preparing young people for the world of work or higher education, achieves 50% less funding than university and 25% less funding than schools. This is a sector that must be financially supported more in order to develop a seriously needed, skilled workforce for the future.
In addition to funding, better careers advice and work experience need to be worked into the curriculum, based on local economic need. Work experience is one of the most valuable ways for young people to develop their skills and get a taste of the world of work, as well as helping them decide the path they wish to take.
However, there is no point doing all of this unless investment in making our county more attractive to young professionals looking to relocate and making it a place our local young people wish to stay in. Business Leaders want to see more investment in young professional housing to buy and let, as well as investment in connectivity and transport infrastructure across North Herefordshire.
Here at the Chamber we are committed to bridging the gap between the worlds of business and education. For more information, or to register your interest for future Chamber roundtables, please contact Policy Manager Sophia Haywood on