THE number of unemployed people in Stratford district has reached its highest point for almost five years.
Figures published on Monday show in March there were 720 people out of work — 395 men and 325 women.
It only amounts to around one per cent of the working-age population, but more worryingly the figure has been rising steadily since December 2016.
The previous peak was August 2013 when there were 730 jobless after an historic low of 240 in November 2015.
Current records show Stratford’s unemployment at its highest in February 1993 when it reached 3,620 – 5.2 per cent of the then population.
In neighbouring Warwick district, there are 725 people claiming out-of-work benefits – the highest since October 2014.
The March figures also show a rise across the whole of Warwickshire, from 5,110 in February to 5,340 in March.
Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, blamed a skills mismatch.
She said: “The figure is steadily rising and, of course, it’s a cause for concern.
“We have been through periods over the past ten to 15 years where we knew companies were looking to cut headcount rather than increase it.
“This isn’t one of those times. Businesses are telling us that they are confident that they can grow and need more staff to help them to do so.
“They are also telling us that they are unable to find the right people with the right skills to fill the posts that they require.
“It’s a matter that the Chamber is focussing on through our Skills and Employability Group, which was started by our Mid-Warwickshire branch.
“There isn’t a quick fix to the overall issue but individual businesses can work with us at the Chamber to help them overcome the problem by looking at other ways to close the skills gap within their company.”
But the Chamber has also warned this week that more than 300,000 job vacancies could be unfilled across its by 2030 if the skills gap isn’t closed.
It cited business growth, people retiring, falling numbers of overseas workers and then the shortage of skills.