January 2009 briefing on the economic downturn’s impact on skills and the labour market in the West Midlands

Download January 2009 briefing (PDF, 210KB)The West Midlands Regional Observatory has produced an updated briefing, the Economic Downturn: Impact on Skills and the Labour Market (PDF, 275KB), outlining the continuing affects of the economic downturn on employment and skills levels in the West Midlands.

The latest data from December 2008 provides a more detailed picture of how the current economic conditions are impacting on West Midlands’ industries and the labour market.

Unsurprisingly, the broad picture is one of overall decline, with businesses in both the manufacturing and service industries reporting reduced confidence in the market, according to the British Chambers of Commerce.

This is producing a knock-on affect on labour market expectations, with increasing numbers of businesses reducing their workforce levels. Consequently, the level of claimant unemployed registered with Jobcentre Plus has risen quickly.

However, this has not prevented companies attempting to recruit new staff. Whilst attempted recruitment has slowed a little through quarter four, there are still a significant number of businesses with vacancies, indicating that jobs are available if the job-seeking labour force possesses the necessary skills and aptitudes.

Quite a large number of those businesses attempting to recruit are also reporting difficulties in filling vacancies, a sign that the skills needed for the job are unavailable. In such conditions, it is vital to match the skills of the labour force to those required for the vacant jobs, or to provide further training and up-skilling.

Not all is doom and gloom, however. Intelligence from the Sector Skills Councils has indentified some areas of industry which are proving resilient to the downturn. These areas, such as spare parts manufacture and maintenance, public sector construction projects, low-cost food retail and specialist industries like aerospace, could provide important sources of employment and wealth creation in the near future.

This latest downturn briefing paper (PDF, 275KB) is the second briefing produced by the Observatory. It will be updated on a quarterly basis to provide the very latest data on how the current economic conditions impact on employment and skills in the West Midlands.

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