Area focus: North West pt. 1 – The big stories

Like most of the regions in the UK, recessive dips in the North West have stabilised but growth remains anaemic. The jobs market in the North West is still highly competitive with applications per job once again exceeding the national average in quarter one of 2013, however, the region has gotten closer to the national average in April than it has in the last two years.

The main concerns in the region seem to emanate from a rise in youth unemployment and the widening skills gap across the board in different sectors, while positive news comes in the form of the new HS2 train line which will provide 10,000 jobs in the North of England.


The big stories

One of the biggest stories to emerge from the North West is the £12 million investment into Manchester suburb Stockport this year. The investment will see the retention of 620 jobs, and the creation of 900 spread over the pharmaceutical, chemical and travel & leisure industries.

Stockport Councillor Iain Roberts, executive member for economic development and regeneration, said: “Investment on this scale confirms Stockport’s strength as a key business location, and that the borough continues to thrive despite the prevailing economic conditions.”

Momentary relief for the unemployed youth within the region could be provided through another positive development in the joint venture from Manchester law firms to offer 100 paralegal apprenticeships. The firms, including, Pannone, Slater Heelis, Chafes and Colemans-ctts have secured money from an £8.5 million Chamber of Commerce fund created to support skills training that will create jobs in a flailing legal market which has declined by half in 2013 compared with 2012, while also driving economic growth.

This kind of integration project could be increasingly helpful to the youth and jobseekers in general in the North West across all sectors. People are beginning to adapt to the extreme competitiveness of the job market and in the North West, where it is particularly contested, a diverse job market has begun to emerge as more jobseekers are using their transferable skills to find work elsewhere in the market.

Totaljobs North West Sales manager Jacqueline Corbett explains: “Employment patterns are particularly interesting in the North West as it is a very diverse job market, the level of competition would indicate multiple applications with transferable skills and a desire from the North West jobseeker to flex with the market”.

Although the jobs market in the North West is still hotly contested, there is an air of optimism as major projects such as the HS2 train line and the private equity’s funding of 1,000 new houses set to be built in Liverpool begin development. On top of this, it seems that confidence is returning to the regional commercial property market as real estate firm Jones Long LaSalle reveal it is at its strongest since the financial crisis began.

Accountancy, banking, engineering, customer services, IT and Sales are all on the rise in 2013 as job postings swamp the amount posted in Q1 of 2012, while struggling sectors are in line to receive funding, with the aerospace and automotive sectors receiving a £19 million investment. This news comes after UTC Aerospace systems announced the closure of their Liverpool based manufacturing plant in Goodrich, at the cost of 350 jobs.

In general, things look better for the North West as the region sits closer to the national average for applications per job, with 20.3 people applying for each job in the region compared to 18 for the nation. Q1 of 2012 saw 22.7 jobseekers applying for every job compared to the 19.9 national average, while this April almost levelled the playing field with 18.5 applications per job. Furthermore, a recent survey from insolvency trade body R3 revealed that business distress levels in the North West have fallen to their lowest since the index began in 2010. Over two-thirds (67%) of businesses in the region have not registered any distress indicators at all compared to 43% in 2012, while 59% of all firms involved in the survey registered signs of growth.

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