NEWRY Morne and Down Council (NMD) has launched the ‘Great Place to Work’ strand of its Labor Market Partnership (LMP), which comes in response to research indicating that there are over 1,200 job vacancies in the region.
Funded by the Department of Communities, the partnership aims to promote NMD as a great place to work, help people access employment and help provide relevant skills for existing and future vacancies.
Companies were asked to complete a survey to help them shape the strategy for the new MTP, and the 50 companies that responded currently employ more than 11,000 people combined.
The research indicated that many companies are working hard to attract and retain talent, with incentives such as flexible working, four-day work weeks, and investing in employee culture and wellbeing.
And 72% of businesses in the region – including world-famous names – say they have had some level of engagement with Southern Regional College or South Eastern Regional College to consider hiring apprentices.
Newry, Morne and Down Council chairman Michael Savage said: “This research confirms what we are hearing on the ground from businesses. We need more people in the workforce in the district, and this Great Place to Work initiative aims to help fill that gap.
“We need to start at school level to make sure young people are aware of local opportunities. We have 88% of companies surveyed saying they are interested in hiring graduates and 78% interested in apprenticeships or higher level apprenticeships. This shows that we have many highly qualified local opportunities.
“NISRA data for 2021 shows that we have over 3,500 unemployed in the district and 28,000 people economically inactive, for various reasons. This includes scenarios such as care or family commitments, and people with disabilities. There are figures that show that many of these people want to work if presented with the opportunity.
“Our business community tells us that nearly 65% of companies would be interested in providing career paths and opportunities for people with family responsibilities who need flexibility; almost 70% can provide support for employees with English as a second language and almost 60% would provide the skills and support needed to help a long-term unemployed person re-enter the workforce. This shows that there are opportunities and options for people who may feel alienated from the job market or reluctant to return.
“Our job seekers (38%) tell us there is a lack of opportunities locally, while 35% cited a lack of confidence to apply for a job and 24% said they didn’t know where to look. This tells us that
there is a disconnect somewhere between the labor market and job seekers.
“We hope that the Labor Market Partnership can work with the many stakeholders involved in this space at the local level to try to bridge this gap. We want to inform job seekers about the opportunities available – more than 1,200 of them in the district; and to help companies recruit the skilled and unskilled talent they need to fill current and future vacancies to help drive growth. »
To date, the partnership has supported a range of employability training academies, including for lorry drivers and health and social care workers, providing training for those looking to start a career in these sectors.
It will also host a free job fair on Thursdays at the Canal Court Hotel (10am-3pm).