Sara’s Blog: Latest employment figures and Chamber Primary Health Plan

The latest Quarterly Recruitment Outlook from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) shows that growth is expected but some sectors are yet to see signs of revival.

No big surprises there as we emerge from a third lockdown and our exporting sector comes to terms with the UK – EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement which was ratified last week but has been in place since January.

The survey of over 5,900 UK businesses, including Staffordshire businesses, shows an increase in the percentage of firms expecting workforce growth but also continued weakness and volatility in retail and hospitality sectors.

The percentage of firms attempting to recruit in Q1 remains low at 40 percent in comparison to a 55 percent pre-pandemic 2019 average. Increases in attempted recruitment in the construction and manufacturing sectors are offset by a decline in recruitment in other sectors. There was also an increase in the number of firms attempting to recruit who reported difficulty in finding staff.

These figures serve as a sharp reminder of how unevenly the jobs impact from Covid-19 has been distributed across different sectors, and the consequences this could have for different generations in the workforce.

The labour market is particularly difficult and competitive for young people entering the workforce, as it is for those who have lost jobs during lockdown and may need re-training as well as suffering a drop in confidence.

While the furlough scheme has helped to protect many jobs, the severe restrictions on retail, leisure and hospitality businesses have reduced entry-level employment opportunities. At the same time difficult conditions have led to less apprenticeship opportunities.

Through the BCC we are lobbying the Government to extend the Kickstart initiative well beyond the current December deadline. In addition, extending employer incentives will support businesses in creating more apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities for young people. These measures together with a temporary cut in employer NIC contributions, will support job retention and recruitment for young people and others in the labour market.

Government must also ensure skills are a priority and we have a flexible system, responsive to the needs of employers, to deliver high quality training when and where needed.

If you have any issues around employment and skills, please contact:

The pandemic has certainly brought employee health and wellbeing into sharp focus whilst highlighting that proactive health planning is vital.

Our partner provider, Westfield Health, have commissioned research which shows that in 2020 there was a 10 percent increase in days off due to mental health issues, with 30 percent of

employees saying that mental health had affected productivity with more employees looking for extra wellbeing support.

The Chamber Health Plan, provided by Westfield health, offers an effective employee healthcare solution. It provides money back towards everyday health costs, supporting early diagnosis as well as access to health-related services, including 24/7 telephone support and counselling sessions.

As well as cash-back for treatment such as dental, optical and chiropody there is support for health and wellbeing through counselling and a 24-hour helpline where you will always speak directly with a doctor. Cover starts at £6.13 per employee per month and you can find out more here:

If you want to talk to us about any business issues, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002 or email:

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