Retaining young people key to reducing Cumbrian skills gap

Reducing Cumbria’s employment skills gap could be the key to unlocking more of the county’s economic potential, according to a regional business expert.

Jamie Allison, Head of Cumbria at regional law firm Napthens, says more needs to be done to sell the benefits of studying and working in the county to young people, in order to meet the needs of local employers.

His comments came while speaking with Gill Haigh of Cumbria Tourism and John Houghton of Kirkby-Lonsdale-based construction consultancy A Lamb Associates during a recording of the ‘Brief Conversations with Napthens’ podcast.

Jamie explained: “Businesses in Cumbria are growing steadily. However, the one thing we habitually hear from employers is that there is a real problem recruiting and retaining talent.

“A key priority to unlock the area’s potential is to reduce the drain of young talent moving away from the region to big cities by creating an integrated offer that sells Cumbria as an attractive place to work and live, as well as to visit.

“The county has plenty to offer, but affordable housing and better connectivity, with a joined-up approach to promoting the local benefits and opportunities of living here can have a big impact on growing the local talent pool.”

His comments were echoed by managing director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh. She added: “There is some great work going on within schools and colleges and the HE sector within Cumbria and growing support for a  more joined-up approach between the education sector and employers to  further raise the profile of the industry and its varied career and development opportunities available to our young people.

“Affordability and availability of housing is also a big issue. We need to increase the amount of affordable housing that there is in the region, so that people can afford to buy a house and live here.

“We also need better mobile and digital connectivity so that young creatives can base their businesses here throughout the week and easily deal with clients across the country.”

John Houghton of A Lamb Associates added that a focus on the benefits and career opportunities within the hospitality sector was also needed: “The leisure industry can have quite a transient workforce and isn’t generally seen as a career.

“However, delivering good service is a necessary profession and more of an emphasis should be placed on the benefits and progression available within the sector.”

The full discussion between Jamie Allison, Gill Haigh and John Houghton can be heard by downloading the podcast, either by subscribing on Spotify or Pippa, or directly here.

‘Brief Conversations with Napthens’ is a new regular podcast discussing key issues affecting businesses and individuals in the North West and beyond.