Latest Updates From Surrey Chambers CEO – 24th April

28th April 2023


As part of our national Chamber network, we have just completed our latest Quarterly Recruitment Outlook (QRO), a survey of more than 5,000 UK firms of all sectors and sizes which reveals, as expected, that businesses are still facing record high difficulties in hiring new staff. 80% of businesses surveyed (92% of whom are small and medium) attempting to recruit have faced challenges. The first quarter results for 2023 show that recruitment difficulties have fallen just two percentage points from the record high level of 82% in Q4 2022. While recruitment difficulties are being experienced across the economy, firms in the hospitality and manufacturing sectors were the most likely to report recruitment difficulties (83% in each sector). This is closely followed by the construction and engineering sector (81%) and then professional services; and public, education, health sector on 79%. These are all incredibly high numbers, and we are certainly seeing this borne out with local businesses. Investment in training remains stubbornly low in an environment of increasing cost pressures. Just over a quarter of firms (27%) reported an increase in their training investment plans over the last three months (24% Q4 2022), while 14% report a drop. While investment in training is part of the solution, it is being held back by rising overall cost pressures and a lack of time and resource at firms to mentor and support new recruits.

As we work towards out Local Skills Improvement Plan, we have spoken to 500 businesses as well as many skills providers in the area and we are confident that there are some actions that we could take collectively to increase the supply of people with the skills needed.

Biggest Business Expo in Surrey!

The Surrey Business Expo which took place last week was a great success. As well as meeting up with many of our members and potential members we delivered a great Seminar programme that covered a number of “people” topics. Hearing from local businesses, training providers and other business advisors there was rich discussion in every session. In spite of all the challenges that are posed to the businesses of Surrey there is an amazing can-do attitude, which was demonstrated within our interactive seminars.

British Chambers Global Annual Conference

Our theme for 2023 is Building British Business. This full day conference will be an opportunity for business leaders from across the UK, and the globe, to come together to discuss the opportunities for growth to help local communities thrive. We have a high-profile group of speakers covering Skills, Green Innovation, Growth and Trade. We will be joined by a senior Treasury Minister, the governor of the Bank of Enland, Sir Keir Starmer and our National President, Baroness Martha Lane Fox. Martha has been doing a great job over the last seven days representing all of our businesses to the Prime Minister. She has reiterated the messages we have received from our quarterly survey and was also with a group of Chambers hearing our local stories, which she was then able to share. It has never been more important for the government to listen to the businesses on the ground and we are very happy to provide that intel.

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