The Managing Director of fast-growing manufacturing and maintenance company Beta Group revealed he was struggling to fill five vacancies within his organisation despite advertising in media across Lancashire and Greater Manchester.
“We are a successful company with busy order books and plans for continued growth in our 25th anniversary year, however, no matter how hard we try, we can’t seem to find the people with the skills we need,” he said, speaking from his HQ at Underbank Mill, Bacup.
“We already employ more than 50 people, many from the Rossendale area who are now enjoying successful careers in our four divisions and I would have thought the prospect of a secure job in a company like ours would have some serious appeal, especially in the current economic conditions.
“But response to our advertisements has been disappointing. And of the few applications we have received, not all of the candidates possessed the skills or experience we were looking for.”
Since discussing the issue with business owners within the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce’s new Rossendale Business Group, of which he is a member, Mr Lewis has become involved in a number of initiatives aimed at addressing the problem.
“After joining the group I realised that other businesses were having similar recruitment problems to us,” he added. “I was also fascinated to discover that a survey carried out in recent years revealed that a significant percentage of people in Rossendale commute outside East Lancashire for work – a far higher proportion than those who travel from other towns and boroughs.
“In fact the last survey showed that a staggering 27 per cent of employees in Rossendale travel to work in Greater Manchester on a daily basis, compared with four per cent from Burnley and seven per cent from Blackburn.
“And that is despite the fact that we don’t have a direct rail link to Manchester. So it is no wonder that employers struggle to find the right people, especially when you take the accepted skill shortages into account.”
Mr Lewis said he was gratified by the support the Rossendale Business Leaders were giving. They were already looking at the potential for a Rossendale Jobs Website to ensure job seekers in the borough were fully aware of local employment opportunities. And they would also be talking to the education sector to ensure school leavers were aware of the variety of careers available locally.
“The Business Leaders recognise the problem and we are working hard to deal with it,” added Mr Lewis. “I’m delighted to be a member of such a pro-active team. I am also delighted to see representatives from Rossendale Borough Council supporting the business community by attending the Business Leaders’ meetings.”
East Lancs Chamber of Commerce chief executive, Michael Damms said: “Martin Lewis is absolutely right. There is a distinct culture of travelling to work that seems stronger in Rossendale than anywhere else in East Lancashire.
"It’s undoubtedly the allure of a big economy like Manchester's, but it's also in part a lack of appreciation of local opportunities. Full marks to Beta Group and the other Business Leaders for responding to the challenge."
For further information about Beta Group click onto: www.betagroupltd.com