EMPLOYERS are being encouraged to sign-up for a county-wide careers fair to help nurture their future workforce, especially those in the production and manufacturing sectors, writes Emma Rawlings, Chief Executive, Somerset Chamber of Commerce.

The Somerset Skills and Careers Fair will be a great opportunity for employers to encourage young people into their respective industries.

According to the latest figures from the Chamber network, hiring problems are finally starting to ease, although two thirds of those who took part in a network survey still reported difficulties finding the right staff.

Production and manufacturing firms are bearing the brunt of the staffing issues, with 70% of those questioned reporting hiring problems in the first quarter of this year. However, that is down from 77% in the final quarter of last year.

In both the construction/engineering and transport/logistics sectors, 69% of firms said they had experienced recruitment difficulties, while the hospitality sector reported 64%.

As businesses continue to face unpredictable economic conditions, the majority are struggling to increase investment in workplace training.

While it is heartening that the recruitment picture is improving and the percentage of firms reporting difficulties is at its lowest level for three years, the fact that 66% of firms are still facing hiring challenges shows a significant problem remains.

Too many employers are struggling to find people with the skills they need to fill job vacancies. And that is damaging business opportunities and growth.

While the need for a long-term industrial strategy, underpinned by better skills planning and more investment in training cannot be understated, local businesses can step up and help future-proof themselves, too.

Taking part in careers fairs or offering work experience to students are simple ways to try and encourage young people onto a specific career path.

The Somerset Skills and Careers Fair takes place at Westlands Entertainment Venue, Yeovil, on Wednesday, October 2, from 9am to 4pm and more information can be found on the Somerset Education Business Partnership website.