Could Leicestershire be a new hotspot for contractors?

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Contractors could see more opportunities emerging in Leicestershire over the coming years, thanks to a new government deal to boost the local economy.

Leicester and Leicestershire have agreed a multi-million pound City Deal, which will create thousands of new jobs and apprentices.

Deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, and minister for cities, Greg Clark, announced the scheme, that is hoped to slash youth unemployment by half through the 'Young Persons Pledge'.

"We’re giving Leicester the freedom, power and tools to be really innovative and design whole new ways of building a stronger economy and fairer society," Mr Clegg said. "This City Deal puts power in the hands of local people who know best what skills are needed in the area to give it a real chance of changing the fortunes of thousands of people across Leicestershire."

The 'Young Persons Pledge' commits to providing all 16 to 24-year olds with the chance to secure employment, education and training.

This is supported by the 'to work' programme in the city, which establishes a case work support service that offers personalised help for youngsters, sets up an Employment and Apprenticeship Hub, creates an innovative new employment and training scheme and establishes local youth employment schemes to complement national programmes.

It is expected the deal will lead to 1,400 new jobs and 4,000 apprenticeships and traineeships.

What's more, £130 million of public and private sector investment will be unlocked by the scheme.

"By helping to grow local small and medium sized businesses, we will encourage and support more to take on trainees and apprentices to ensure the skills remain in the region. That way order books fill up and more young people have jobs. I’m delighted to be able to say ‘yes’ to the deal," Mr Clark said.

What's more, funding will be provided to support the expansion of Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Parks.

There will will be a series of tailored business support programmes that will help grow small and medium enterprises (SMEs), such as limited companies.

Meanwhile, a pan-Midlands supply chain initiative will be created to support manufacturing and engineering growth in the area for SMEs.

The City Deal will also aim to enhance joint working between local authorities and the Homes and Communities Agency. This will coordinate the disposal and development of publicly owned land.

Leicester and Leicestershire will be the 16th area to conclude their City Deal.

However, as key sectors such as manufacturing strengthen, they will be a rush to harvest the skills needed for growth.

This could prove challenging as staff availability declines. February's 'Report on Jobs' from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and KPMG showed permanent candidate availability declined at the fastest rate since November 2004.

Staff are in the greatest demand in the engineering sector, with construction and nursing/medical not far behind.

Temporary workers can step into the void and ensure businesses trying to grow can access the talent they need.

Kevin Green, REC chief executive officer, explained that the falling number of candidates is a critical issue and recruiters are "struggling to source the managerial and technical skills" required by employers.

By Victoria McDonnell

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