I read an article from job website CV-Library that said almost half of recruiters think that engineering is the hardest sector to place candidates in. The study suggested that engineering roles are the hardest for recruiters to fill, and a separate study highlighted an unrelenting skills shortage across the UK as a whole. And the picture is no different in Chesterfield, yet we have a thriving manufacturing and engineering sector here.
The study illustrated for me, yet again, how essential school leavers are for the future of Chesterfield, especially in the manufacturing and engineering sectors. Locally, we are outperforming the national average with manufacturing representing around 20% of the turnover of Sheffield City Region (SCR), and if we want this continue we need to attract a future workforce.
Recognising this, we hosted a week-long Made in Chesterfield festival last year which was designed to highlight the sector to young people and encourage them to consider a career in it when the leave school. It was hugely successful, introducing more than 400 young people to the sector.
Capitalising on this success, this year, we will be dedicating an entire month – November – to Made in Chesterfield. Expect to hear a lot from engineering and manufacturing companies you probably didn’t even know existed, let alone known what they do, during November. Many have been in Chesterfield for years, providing local jobs.
While unemployment locally now stands at its lowest level for three years, youth unemployment currently stands at 16%. We can all work together to make a difference to this.
We know festivals and initiatives like Made in Chesterfield and the Food and Drink Awards work in bringing together the education and business community; introducing them to each other and identifying career and employment opportunities.
Chesterfield College uses the Food and Drink Awards every year to show off the skills of their talented hospitality students at the awards ceremony. Each year the students not only make the food but also serve it and this year will be no different. It is restaurant quality food and service, adding a unique element to these popular awards. My mouth is already watering thinking of the awards ceremony which is once again being held at the College’s Heart Space Building at the end of October.
It’s important we work together to reduce youth unemployment in Chesterfield. Initiatives like Made in chesterfield and the Food and Drink Awards are just the tip of the iceberg. Young people want a job, a place to live and a thriving social scene and we have all that right here, we just need to open their eyes to it.