Jobless numbers rising yet Northamptonshire manufacturers still struggling to fill vacancies

First Chamber of Commerce quarterly survey reveals business still struggling to overcome Covid-19 crisis
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Half the manufacturers in Northamptonshire who attempted to recruit workers during the last three months say they struggled to fill vacancies.

The latest quarterly survey by county's Chamber of Commerce revealed 39 per cent of businesses attempted to bring in staff following the coronavirus shutdown.

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Yet, despite the number of Jobseeker's Allowance claimants in the county doubling since March, one-third of those experienced difficulties in recruiting.

Within the service sector, 37 per cent wanted to find staff but 29 per cent of those found it difficult.

And the situation was even worse for manufacturers where 50 per cent of businesses had vacancies but half of those had problems finding the right people to fill them.

But the outlook for jobs in the county still looks bleak as 20 per cent of all businesses revealed they expect their workforce to decrease before Christmas.

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More than 400 jobs are already earmaked to go at three Corby companies RS Components, Roquette and Amaray.

Businesses fear more job losses to come in Northamptonshire. Photo: Getty ImagesBusinesses fear more job losses to come in Northamptonshire. Photo: Getty Images
Businesses fear more job losses to come in Northamptonshire. Photo: Getty Images

And the county Chamber fears extra Government support is going to be needed to avoid even more damage to the local and national economy.

Sales, demand, jobs, orders and investment all improved during the period between June and September but are still way down on pre-lockdown levels.

Louise Wall, Interim CEO of Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce, said: "This latest Quarterly Economic Survey shows an improvement in the business environment in Northamptonshire. Almost every metric shows an upturn from the last quarter, however despite this we still need to be cautious about the signs of economic recovery.

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“Although it is heartening to see a broad improvement, we must be mindful that this is in contrast to the worst results ever reported in Quarter two.

Chamber of Commerce CEO Louise WallChamber of Commerce CEO Louise Wall
Chamber of Commerce CEO Louise Wall

"Significant numbers of businesses are reporting decreases in sales and orders or turnover and profitability — decreases from Q2, the most difficult quarter in living memory.

"Sadly, many businesses continue to struggle with the challenges posed by the Covid-19 lockdown.

"If the economy was fully bouncing back, we would expect to see a more significant rise than we have – sadly, this is not yet a time to celebrate.

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"As a Chamber we are aware of the damage uncertainty wreaks on the amazing businesses we proudly represent and we fully support the British Chambers of Commerce call on the government to provide further support and the strengthening of measures that underpin business confidence.

"The Northamptonshire Chamber continues to keep track of all the government schemes supporting businesses, in order to do the best for our members. This includes acting as an intermediary for the new Kickstart scheme, offering placements for young people in danger of long-term unemployment."

Businesses joined in the bellweather survey between August 24 and September 14 to highlight their views and give a snapshot of the performance and concerns of the business community county-wide.

It forms part of the biggest and most representative survey of its kind in the UK and is widely recognised as a key economic indicator by Government, the Bank of England and economists.

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Earlier this year, a report by the British Chamber of Commerce highlighted a “critical skills deficit” in the UK workforce and called for Government commitments to long-term funding for vocational education and for apprenticeships.