Tom Mongan, president of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce

Business leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire have welcomed a fall in unemployment but say firms are struggling to recruit to help them recover from the Coronavirus crisis.

Unemployment fell to 4.7 per cent in the month to June while there were 953,000 job vacancies nationally in the three months to July.

Tom Mongan, president of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said the figures reflect what the Chamber is hearing from firms locally.

He said: “Of course, falling unemployment is very welcome news and the labour market is performing better than many thought it might when we were at the height of the crisis.

“But when I go out and talk to businesses in the region, I am hearing time and again that they are struggling to recruit. Without the right level of staff, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to start growing again and that will stunt wider economic growth.

“It’s vitally important, therefore, that the Government sets out a plan for tackling this issue so we can make sure we have the right skills for the roles that the economy is demanding.

“That plan should include a mix of training opportunities for people to forge new careers and greater flexibility when it comes to immigration so that businesses can bring in the people with the skills they need to help them grow.”

British Chambers of Commerce Head of Economics, Suren Thiru, said: “The latest figures confirm that the UK jobs market is recovering strongly as the boost to demand from the easing of restrictions helped drive higher payroll employment in July.

“Record vacancies confirm ongoing recruitment difficulties. Although the changes to self-isolation rules will help, with many firms facing a more deep-rooted squeeze on labour supply from the impact of Covid and Brexit, staff shortages may persistently weigh on economic activity.

“Although labour demand is currently robust, with firm’s finances still recovering from Covid and skills mismatches likely to limit the extent to which those seeking jobs after furlough can move into available roles, unemployment may still drift somewhat higher in the near term.

“Alongside rapid retraining opportunities, government should extend the Kickstart scheme into 2022 and expand it to enable older workers to gain new skills and experience. A more flexible immigration system is also needed to ensure that firms get access to the workers they need.”