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Ian Mean: a lot of people are opting to remain on benefits rather than take up employment

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By Ian Mean

Business West Gloucestershire director and vice chair of GFirstLEP

Recruitment is still a major headache for companies in Gloucestershire-particularly for the SMEs-the small and medium size firms.

We know, of course, that many firms are happy to pay top dollar to get the skilled workers they need to grow.

But this is a very confusing employment market.

It is difficult to understand the latest figures that say around 25 000 people aged between 16 and 64 are claiming benefits. They are said to be ”economically inactive”-meaning they are not required to work.

I believe that many of these people could work with the right support-in the right job.

A big question seems to be: How many of these people have the skills employers in the county need?

I wonder if some employers are setting their sights too high?

If people don’t exactly meet the criteria for a job might an employer consider a broader skillset and train on the job?

I don’t have the answer to these important employment questions.

That’s  why I am keen on GFirstLEP’s 50/50 initiative with the county council to help the over 50s back into work.

I can now report-that after great work by the county council’s Employment and Skills Hub-35 companies have now signed our pledge to help and 60 residents have also signed up.

These are not big numbers at the moment but following the official launch of 50/50 in October, I hope we will see an appreciable rise.

We are, of course, still seeing the long term effects of Covid and many people are not wanting to work as a result.

Maybe they are caring for family members while mental issues are undoubtedly  a factor with some people losing confidence after being furloughed  or made unemployed.

We have just seen more jobs being posted for August in Gloucestershire at 29 555.That’s an increase of 2 999 over the July figures.

So, we really must get a more detailed understanding of why jobs are not being filled here and why a lot of people are opting to remain on benefits rather than take up employment.

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