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January 2024

Chamber’s LSIP Team Launches New Report with Updated Labour Market,

Apprenticeships and Survey Analysis

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce has launched a new report as part of its work on The GM Local Skills Improvement Plan that includes updated data and refreshed research and analysis about the skills, recruitment and labour market issues affecting businesses across Greater Manchester.

The LSIP update follows the first Greater Manchester Local Skills Improvement Plan, which was approved by the Secretary of State for Education in August 2023. Six months on, the team wanted to present the research and findings that have been uncovered since the first stage was completed.

Tasked by the Department for Education to develop and deliver the LSIP for Greater Manchester, the Chamber team’s new report provides updated labour market information on a number of sectors, including: health and social care, engineering and manufacturing, construction, and digital. These sectors have been selected because of their contribution to the GM economy, or because they have been identified as ‘priority’ sectors. Subsequent reports will focus on other sectors.

As well as the sector updates, the new report includes an analysis on the number of vacancies and most in-demand jobs in all ten Local Authority areas of Greater Manchester. There is also an in-depth look at apprenticeships provision, with a grading system showing whether the number of apprenticeship starts in each key training area is meeting demand.

Commenting on the LSIP update, Chris Fletcher (pictured), Policy Director

at the Chamber and Contract Director for the Greater Manchester LSIP,


“As well as the vast amount of additional research that has been

conducted by the team in this second phase, we have focused on

implementation, with the aim of embedding the GM LSIP within the local

skills system. We’ve highlighted within the report how the Local Skills

Improvement Fund is being used by colleges to put in place measures to

tackle the main skills shortages highlighted in our stage one report; how

LSIP findings have been used by the GM Institute of Technology to make sure that the demands and needs of employers for higher technical qualifications are met; and how the LSIP has played a part in the Further Education Innovation Fund (FEIF) helping promote innovation in local colleges.

“We’d like to thank GMCA, all the businesses, colleges, skills and training providers, Greater Manchester Learning Provider Network, employer representative bodies, delivery partners and all of the other stakeholders who have played a part in this project so far, for their support and contributions to the Chamber’s LSIP work over the last 18 months. This project will only work and succeed through collaborative working, and we look forward to continuing to share the results of where skills priorities identified in the LSIP have been actioned and start to make a difference to businesses.”

A number of businesses have taken part in interviews in this second stage of the project to discuss their skills challenges and recruitment issues in more depth. The LSIP update includes a summary of some of the main findings from these discussions.  Also included is a summary and analysis of the results from our Business Training survey, looking at the quality of training undertaken by employees in Greater Manchester and the amount of time and money allocated for staff training.  

Following on from this LSIP update report, the Chamber’s LSIP team will continue to conduct research delving deeper into the issues highlighted so far in the project. The next LSIP report for the Department for Education will be produced in June 2024.


Chris Fletcher (2) - cropped & re-sized.jpg

August 2023

Greater Manchester Local Skills Plan reveals shortages across key growth sectors

  • Over 3,000 businesses surveyed as part of Greater Manchester Local Skills Improvement Plan.

  • Results reveal most ‘urgent’ skills shortages across construction, manufacturing, health, education and net zero sectors, in all areas of GM.

  • ‘Soft’ skills and basic digital skills shortages amongst main areas of concern for employers

  • Businesses report satisfactory numeracy and literacy ‘workplace’ skills are lacking in some industries.

  • Employers associate skills shortages with new recruits, but need to shift focus to up-skill current staff.

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce has unveiled the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) for Greater Manchester, which has brought together employers’ views, local authority investment plans and granular data analysis on vacancies and skills requirements, to highlight the current and future skills shortages affecting the region.

The Greater Manchester LSIP, which is funded by the Department of Education, outlines where the skills shortages are in each sector and Local Authority area of Greater Manchester and sets out the steps to bridge the skills gaps through ongoing work with local skills providers.

Over 3,000 businesses contributed to the research, which began in October 2022, and the report details specific areas in each sector where action needs to be taken to fulfil current and future demand:

  • Within the construction sector, retrofitting skills have been classified as an urgent priority, with employers citing problems finding individuals who can implement ‘net zero’ solutions.

  • Within manufacturing, the skills gaps that need to be addressed urgently include energy efficiency and waste management skills, lean manufacturing, and roles focusing on sustainability. There are ‘high priority’ skills gaps in industries focusing on robotics and automation technologies, with industrial electrical trades and electricians also in high demand.

  • In the health and social care sectors, there is an ‘urgent’ need for nurses, particularly mental health practitioners, and there is a chronic labour shortage in health care with employers citing difficulties in attracting and retaining staff as the main reason for this.

  • The education sector is also suffering from labour shortages, with teachers of STEM subjects and digital skills the most sought after. There is also a shortage of teaching assistants and learning support staff.

  • Finally, logistics and warehousing skills are in high demand, in particular, operational skills around the use of automated lines and drones. Employers also highlighted the need for more ‘future’ skillsets in logistics, such as general software skills and coders for equipment and picking lines.

Commenting on the results of the data collected and the GM Local Skills

Improvement Plan, Chris Fletcher (pictured), Policy Director at Greater

Manchester Chamber of Commerce and Contract Director for the GM

LSIP, said:

“For many, the priorities that have emerged from our research will not

come as a surprise; some of these skills gaps have been known about for

a long time. However, our remit from the Department for Education is to

use the quantitative and qualitative evidence of skills and labour

shortages that we have collected from employers and start to bridge

these gaps.

“We have worked closely with colleges and other training providers and outlined the skills priorities in each sector and area of Greater Manchester. Together, as we enter the next phase of this project, we will look at current skills provision and identify where it needs to change, increase, or bring in new courses and training that meets the needs of employers.

“The next part of the LSIP will also see a focus on ensuring that employers fully understand what training is currently available to them and encourage more take up of provision and reverse the decline of investment in training.

“Working closely with skills providers, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), delivery partners, a range of other stakeholders, and, of course, businesses, we will bring greater transparency to the skills system so that individuals and employers can access the skills and training provision they need to grow and succeed.”

In addition to the main skills and labour shortages identified, employers highlighted a lack of ‘soft’ skills in new recruits. Soft skills have been categorised as ‘those skills that an employee needs outside of the specific technical skills to do the job’. These skills include: attitude and aptitude, presentation skills, setting objectives and time management. Coupled with this, many employers said they struggled to find individuals with basic digital skills, such as email, using Microsoft programmes, etc., and in some cases, a lack of basic numeracy and literacy skills.

Commenting on these findings, Subrahmaniam Krishnan

Harihara (pictured), Deputy Director of Research at Greater

Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said:

“Soft skills are a major issue for employers, and this is also

recognised by providers. Whilst some technical skills shortages

may be easier to address, it would be wrong to ignore the issue

of soft skills if current and future skills and recruitment issues

are to be tackled successfully.

“Basic, soft skills specific to the workplace, basic IT and digital skills and essential literacy and numeracy skills have been highlighted as Strategic Priorities within the LSIP, which means we will aim to address these with skills providers, alongside the skills shortages specific to sectors. Within our Strategic Priorities, we have also included Net Zero/Sustainability skills as many employers now require individuals with basic knowledge of these skills specific to their industry. If Greater Manchester is to meet its net zero targets, these skills need to be embedded within the workforce and that starts with education and upskilling.”

The training and upskilling of current staff was another issue that emerged from the research for the LSIP. Employers tend to associate skills shortages with the recruitment process, as opposed to looking at the skills levels of their current employees, therefore, one of the recommendations within the LSIP is to encourage workforce development and release staff for relevant training to help meet the current and future skills needs of the business.

To read the Greater Manchester Local Skills Improvement Plan, full set of recommendations and the next steps to deliver the Plan, click here.

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