Unemployment has fallen by almost 50,000 in the past year, new figures show – but business leaders warn a lack of joined-up thinking is hampering efforts to create jobs.
There was a slight fall in joblessness in the past quarter which meant the total number out of work is 206,000 – 49,000 fewer than the same period in 2013.
However, the 7.5 per cent unemployment rate in the region is better than only the North East, and Birmingham Chamber of Commerce has called for more to be done.
Employment Minister Esther McVey said the latest data from the Office for National Statistics showed government reforms are helping people into work.
She added: Unemployment in the West Midlands fell by 50,000 in the last year, which shows that the Government’s long-term economic plan to help businesses create jobs and get people working again is proving successful.
“Behind today’s figures there are countless individual stories of people turning their lives around, of families who are now feeling more secure with a regular wage, and of young people escaping unemployment and building a career.
“We know there is always more to do, which is why it is vital to stick to delivering a plan for full employment that’s creating growth and jobs.”
However, while another fall in unemployment was welcomed in the region, Tim Pile, president of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, said a lack of joined up thinking was stalling progress.
“The region is currently second only to the North East in terms of unemployment and national figures have dropped to six per cent,” he said.
“While the previous trend for the West Midlands has shown a positive downward figure, today’s announcement represents a stalling of that trend. The key problem for the region is a lack of joined-up thinking.
“Our members tell us that there is a shortage of professional skills, in particular, ecologists, risk managers, analysts and transport modellers. Their answer has been to take on graduates and apprentices that they can train on the job. Other members said they couldn’t recruit people with payroll experience.
“Other members say that to satisfy the recruitment drive, large companies are taking staff from smaller companies. More needs to be done to bring business and education together to tackle the lack of skills issue.”