Almost a fifth of businesses in Leeds City Region that have reported skills gaps, say that their managers are affected, according to a report by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
Skills gaps occur when employees are not fully proficient in their jobs. Although, at 18%, the leadership and management skills gap is better than the national average of 20%, the Leeds City Region Labour Market Report 2018 suggests that closing this gap could be an important boost to business productivity in the region.
There is an established trend between business skills and productivity, with management skills seen as a key factor in developing positive business practices which lead to higher productivity.
Boosting productivity is a top priority for the Combined Authority and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), as part of both bodies’ collective efforts to develop a strong, socially inclusive economy that works for everyone in the region.
Further research by the Combined Authority highlights that closing the gap between the region’s productivity rate and the national average could add more than £10 billion to the regional economy and create thousands of skilled jobs.
Joanna Robinson, LEP Board Member and MDof Mansfield Pollard said:“It is notable in the report that a significant proportion of employers who report skills gaps say that management level staff are affected. This has clear implications for wider business performance and productivity.
“The main skill gaps businesses are reporting are in core management skills, complex problem solving skills, as well as softer operational skills such as time management, team working, customer handling skills and persuading and influencing others.
“It’s great to see in the report the estimate that employers in the City Region invest close to £2 billion a year on workforce development. It’s also clear though that more needs to be done to support businesses – especially SMEs – to make the case for training as a business investment that will deliver returns in the form of improved performance for organisations as well as for the region.
“I would encourage business leaders to take time out and focus on their own development: if you are not at the top of your game, your business won’t be either. We can always improve as leaders and managers so don’t be afraid to reach out for help – whether by seeking out the advice of other business leaders, or taking advantage of the support that’s available through organisations like the LEP.”
A wide range of support is available to help businesses grow and become more productive – all of which can be accessed through the LEP’s Growth Service, a one-stop-shop to help businesses find the right support for them.
The support on offer includes a strategic business growth programme offering advice on leadership and management issues such as business planning and investment readiness, as well as support to train and upskill employees.
Businesses can also currently bid for a share of £500,000 to invest in new equipment, machinery or premises, which will lead to improved productivity. The fund is open for applications until 14 December.
Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said:“We see the support we’re putting in place for businesses as part of a joint endeavour between the public and private sectors to resolve our region’s productivity challenge.
“Alongside investment in R&D and innovation, I would encourage businesses to take advantage of the support that’s available to invest more in the skills of their workforce. This is proven to be one of the best ways of improving productivity, which has obvious benefits for individual businesses but also for our region.
“Productivity gains will benefit local people through increased living standards and better jobs as well strengthening our economy, improving competitiveness and driving growth.”