Sara’s Blog- Staffordshire Chambers Business Awards Winners and latest labour market figures

Last night was the highlight of my year so far as I had the privilege to welcome all the finalists and specially invited guests to the gala presentation of the 2021 Staffordshire Chambers Business Awards, at Uttoxeter Racecourse.

Sadly, we couldn’t accommodate everyone who wanted to attend but a live streaming of the event made sure hundreds more people could watch at home or in the office, and it is available to watch again. The presenters at the ceremony were, ex bmibaby boss Dave Bryon and soon to be chambers President, Kate Beardmore from Synectics Solutions – a formidable double act whose wit and professionalism really made the evening extra- special.

Congratulations to all our winners, especially Stone Group who won ‘Business of the Year Award’. They were chosen from the 15 category awards winners with awards ranging from young employee or apprentice of the year right up to the large business of the year.

We received nearly 300 award and as ever the judges had the unenviable task of narrowing it down to 45 finalists. Reading the entries for this year’s awards, you really wouldn’t think we were dealing with the ongoing effects of a pandemic, post Brexit fallout, supply chain issues and labour shortages.

The awards shone the spotlight on the rising stars, hidden gems, brilliant employers, and the great talent that helps businesses to innovate and grow.

As we have all faced uncertainty and worry, it is fantastic to see businesses as beacons of hope and the great entrepreneurial spirit of Staffordshire.

I would like to thank our generous awards sponsors HSBC and all the category sponsors, the judges, the team at the Chambers, the entrants, and all businesses in Staffordshire for doing what you do and being so positive and forward thinking.

You can see a full list of winners and find a link to the streaming of the ceremony here: Awards – Staffordshire Chambers

Earlier this week the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released its labour market statistics for November 2021.

There are no surprises here as this week I have talked to a manufacturer, a care home owner and a solicitor and they are all finding that there is a real shortage of people able to work.

There was a marked rise in payroll employment which suggests that the end of furlough had little effect on the UK jobs market in October, as demand for labour continued to surge.

The number of job vacancies in August to October 2021 continued to rise to a new record of 1,172,000, an increase of 388,000 from the pre-coronavirus pandemic January to March 2020 level, with 15 of the 18 industry sectors showing record highs.

However, these record job vacancies suggest that the chronic staff shortages encountered by businesses are intensifying and this could derail the recovery by forcing firms into a more long-lasting decline in their operating capacity.

Although earnings growth remains high, achieving wage increases over a sustained period is likely to prove challenging without a marked improvement in productivity and an easing of the current cost pressures faced by firms.

Despite the success of furlough, the likely squeeze on hiring intentions from next year’s national insurance hike and slower economic growth could mean that labour market conditions start to weaken over the medium term.

More significant support is needed to help firms access the skills they need when they can’t recruit locally, including supporting the hardest hit sectors through expansion of the Shortage Occupation List.

The Chambers will continue to focus our efforts on working with employers, colleges, and training providers to develop our own talent pipeline to create a workforce fit for the challenge in the jobs we need to fill. We are also continuing with our work with the refugee population to use their existing or newly learned skills to benefit local firms.

If you have any issues around skills or retraining, please contact the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Skills Hub based at the Chamber on 0300 600 1066 Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Skills Hub – Employers, start your search for new skills here (

You can read the full ONS statistics UK labour market: November 2021 – Office for National Statistics (

If you want to talk to us about any business issues, including funding, 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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