Steady rise in jobless as Stratford’s figure peaks

Business leaders point finger at skills shortage


STRATFORD’S historically low unemployment rate has been creeping up over the last seven months, figures from the Office for National Statistics show.

The district has seen its jobless total rise by a third since June last year, with the number of people claiming jobseeking-related benefits up from 480 back then to 630 in January this year — the highest since November 2013.

The claimant count for the whole of Warwickshire also rose in January from 4,420 to 4,665 — the county’s highest figure since July 2014.

The number of men out of work in Stratford has risen by 70 over the last seven months, and the number of women by 80, while the age bracket of 25 to 49 saw the biggest increase of 70 people.

Despite the rise, the unemployment rate in Stratford is still just 0.9 per cent of the working age population.

Warwick district has seen a gradual rise since the start of 2017, from 600 last January to 690 this January.

ONS figures do not break it down by sector, but last summer concerns were expressed about a difficulty filling jobs in south Warwickshire’s hospitality sector following the Brexit vote.

The rise has led to a note of caution this week from Louise Bennett, the chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.

She said: “We have seen no indication that businesses are retrenching and looking to shed staff, this is much more about a miss-match in skills.

“The skills gap and the skills shortage are not new but they are in very sharp focus right now and there has to be a real drive to ensure we are equipping people of all ages, backgrounds and gender with the skills to match those that are required in the economy.”