Emily Stubbs, senior policy and projects manager at Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC), said: “Headline indicators suggest that since the start of the year, the labour market in the West Midlands, much like the national labour market, has seen a significant number of previously economically inactive individuals beginning to look for work. 

“Unfortunately, while the regional employment rate has increased slightly, the unemployment rate in the West Midlands has risen further, and remains the highest of any region in the UK.  

“While increases in pay will be received positively by those in employment, wage inflation, driven by tight labour markets, is further increasing the unrelenting cost pressures many firms are already facing. This will raise concerns about subsequent impacts on broader inflation and interest rates. 

“Establishing the right conditions for businesses to invest in local talent, by reducing upfront business costs, enabling more flexible use of apprenticeship funding and facilitating access to rapid, modular training courses is critical to addressing these challenges. Leveraging the legacy benefits of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games also offers local stakeholders a key opportunity to address skills shortages across the region. 

“Where business remain unable to access the talent they need in the UK, national stakeholders must ensure that this is reflected in a comprehensive and up to date Shortage Occupation List.”