Recruitment shortage hampers Cumbria’s rebound in the face of coronavirus

Suzanne caldwell

Cumbria’s main business organization is calling on the government to act quickly to help the hotel industry which cannot recruit staff.

The Cumbria Chamber of Commerce says all sizes of businesses in the sector are hampered in reopening because they struggle to recruit entry-level and low-skilled workers.

he wants Whitehall to make urgent changes to his immigration policy.

The chamber said tourism and hospitality businesses were not alone, as businesses in a number of other industries, including GLL healthcare and leisure providers and Harborside food producers and supplies Products in Maryport, also reported unprecedented problems in recruiting staff.

In recent weeks, Tourism Minister MP Nigel Huddleston has made it clear that the government has no plans to change its immigration policy or assess new ways to attract foreign workers this year.

Suzanne Caldwell, chief executive of the Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, is urging the government to think again, make quick changes and come up with a new approach to help solve the problems.

She said: “We are very concerned about the number of companies, many of which are pillars of the Cumbrian economy, which are facing unprecedented challenges in the labor market.

“It could get in the way of them at a time when an increase in summer sales or stays is essential.

“What is clear to business leaders in hospitality, manufacturing and many other industries is that government needs to take a much more agile approach than it portrays.

“Whitehall’s message is that they will not be reviewing their immigration policy this year.

“This has to change very quickly. A reduction in VAT for certain service sectors such as hotels should also be considered.

“What we would like to see is the replacement of the Erasmus program to start immediately rather than in September and an accelerated short-term mobility visa valid for six months to two years, in a model similar to Australia which could help attract young workers.

“The government needs to make these changes to present the right message to foreign workers and show them that unrelated to Brexit they are and always will be welcome when working in the UK.”

A Cumbria Tourism study found that in April 34% of businesses were concerned about hiring staff due to factors such as staff relocation during the pandemic, changes in immigration policy after Brexit, restrictions current travel agents and many companies hiring at the same time.

The Cumbria Chamber of Commerce is involved as a gateway in the government’s Kickstart program, helping small businesses access £ 1,500 per placement through the £ 2bn fund to create paid internships for young people unemployed.

He has helped get approval for over 500 placements, but the recruiting problem remains.

John Heywood, director of Harborside Products Ltd, in Maryport, believes the current recruiting problems are the worst he has seen in the business, with options that would have alleviated the problem previously no longer available this time around.

He advocates a different and more open approach from the government towards foreign employees to improve the situation and said: “It is very difficult to recruit people, especially women. I never knew it was this bad.

“We have tried everything we can to recruit people, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to get the people we need to work.

“There is no doubt that Brexit will play an important role in the ability of companies like ours to find workers in the future.

“Going back to 2000, when we had a huge increase in sales, we had to employ outside the EU to keep going.

“In particular, we recruited quite a few Bulgarian staff before they came to the EU, but now we are really struggling.

“We rely on unskilled production workers who are essential to the business, but the UK workforce seems relatively reluctant to come into these positions.

“Some of our MPs have said that the UK makes our own products, but you need the manpower, and the arrangement now in place, with workers who have been here for 15 years or more having to fill out jobs. forms do not make them feel welcome. stay.

“It might help us when the leave ends, but in the long run the government needs to look at how to make UK workers as active as possible in the labor market.”

Derek Jones, head of partnerships at GLL, which provides recreation facilities in five of the county’s six authority areas, suffers from the same staffing issues as other areas.

He fears the impact will lead them to come up with a reduced offer at a time when the company – like many others in Cumbria – needs a strong summer after last year, and believes the government must put implementing ‘blue sky reflection’ ideas.

He said: “Leisure services and outdoor activities are just as affected as hospitality and tourism, and this is not surprising as there are strong links between the two.

“Often a lot of the people we have on our business are visitors.

“We’re a social enterprise organization, so it’s not about making a profit, but if we’re going to increase our payroll, we’re going to have a hard time breaking even.

“It looks a lot like an employee market and we have to compete with many other industries from a shrinking labor pool. We still have the problem of paying for young staff to pass their qualifications and then they disappear, but with everything else it looks like the perfect storm of problems.

“There is also the issue of the high cost of accommodation, and the public sector should look into the plans that have been developed for Copeland’s nuclear supply and put in place temporary summer accommodation for staff. Between government making foreign workers more accessible and local accommodation, we are very dependent on authorities making changes to help us.

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