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Thought Piece: "Businesses and job seekers are being encouraged to embrace flexible working to fill job vacancies in Cumbria"

– By Rachel Wlodarczak, Head of Employment and Skills at CLEP

Labour Supply in Cumbria is one of our priorities at the LEP.

As of July this year there were 6,795 people looking for work in Cumbria and an Office for National Statistics survey estimates there are around 57k economically inactive people aged 16 to 64 in our county who are not working and not available for work.

Yet despite these numbers there are huge staffing challenges in many sectors like hospitality and health and social care. There are many reasons people don’t or can’t find employment, but we know flexibility is increasingly important post pandemic as people face long-term health issues or have caring or family responsibilities.

In order to try and address some of our labour supply challenges, and in partnership with DWP and Centre for Leadership and Performance, CLEP is organising free events this month in Barrow, Carlisle, Kendal, and Whitehaven to bring together businesses and people who might want to work flexibly to fill vacancies across the county.

There are many businesses across Cumbria who already actively embrace flexible working policies but it’s often not something they shout about. Because flexible working is so varied from reduced and condensed hours to hybrid-working it’s often difficult to promote these in a job advert.

Given the fact that all businesses now have to offer flexible working from day one we’re hoping our events will attract businesses large and small and help them find employees. Similarly, we hope early retirees who might want to return to work on less hours or those with caring responsibilities like parents who might benefit from working around school hours will visit their local event to see the many options available. Ultimately, we want to attract more people into the Cumbrian labour market.

Almost a fifth of working age people (21 percent) are estimated to be economic inactive across the UK according to the Office for National Statistics, 0.7 percent higher than before the pandemic.

This is largely driven by those being inactive for reasons like looking after family or a home or long- term sickness which is at a record high.

I’d encourage anyone looking for employees to actively promote and discuss more flexible ways of working and join one of our in-person events to talk to potential employees face-to-face in an open, easily accessible environment.

Supported by the Department for Work and Pensions and the Centre for Leadership and Performance, the event will take place from 10:00-17:00 on;

  • 19th September at The Forum, Barrow;
  • 21st September at the People First Conference Centre, Carlisle;
  • 26th September at Kendal Town Hall;
  • 28th September at Solway Hall, Whitehaven.

For more information, please contact me

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