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Suffolk facing skills shortage due to impact of Brexit, report reveals

PUBLISHED: 20:00 06 November 2017

Suffolk County Council leader Colin Noble welcomed the report.

Suffolk County Council leader Colin Noble welcomed the report.

Copyright: Keith Mindham Photography

The impact of Brexit may be felt in Suffolk because of the difficulty in finding enough people for skilled jobs once the UK leaves the EU according to a new report.

England’s economic prosperity is under threat from a squeeze on the nation’s workforce resulting from a “toxic cocktail” of Brexit, automation and a shrinking skills base.

The report by think tank Localis warns that the native workforce in large areas of the country is too low-skilled for the industries of the future, putting the economy at risk from any post-Brexit decline in immigration.

It warned of a “staggering gulf” in the strength of England’s local labour markets, with the bulk of public and private investment going into a golden triangle encompassing London, Oxford and Cambridge.

Suffolk is one of three locations most at risk of running out of skilled workers – alongside Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire.

The report’s co-author, Localis chief executive Liam Booth-Smith, said: “Simply put, our population is too low-skilled for the high-paying industries we are developing.”

The County Councils Network (CCN), which sponsored the report, said its findings made a clear case for Government to devolve powers to its members.

Suffolk County Council leader Colin Noble said the report highlighted an issue that concerned the authority: “The new Norfolk and Suffolk Economic Strategy, launched in October, recognised that our region has skill levels and wages that are lower than the national average.

“The Strategy sets out a number of clear actions that we will take to drive inclusion and skills in the future. We and our partners are supporting the principle of inclusive growth in the future, to enable local people to access the skills they need to benefit from growth sectors such as clean energy, digital services and life sciences.

“I welcome the report’s recommendations for a much more local approach to labour market strategies that respond to the needs within our communities. That is exactly what we want to achieve and it is why Suffolk local authorities have submitted a bid to pilot the approach of retaining our business rates so that we can use these to support growth.”

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