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Time to update your skills

The Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce’s group chief executive Martin Traynor OBE, FIH, MIoD, talks about the issue of unemployment and how it is affecting the city.

Founded in 1860, the Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce was established to look after local businesses. Half a century later it is still going strong.

Martin Traynor, the group’s chief executive said: “My main role here is to collect the views of the local business community and to be able to articulate that to both local government and national government. What we’re trying to do is to create an environment where businesses can prosper and by doing that, obviously the economy will recover and become far more sustainable.”

According to the businessman, Leicester has ridden out the recession reasonably well. There are in the region of 38,000 businesses in the county, out of which 84 per cent employ less than 10 people, making it very much a small business-led economy. He explains there are currently around 22,000 unemployed people in Leicestershire, but between 26,000 to 28,000 vacancies.

He added: “The difficulty is that the majority of people that are currently on unemployment benefit either don’t have the skills or relevant skills for the jobs that we are creating.

“As the economy recovers all these small businesses are taking on more people or trying to take on more people, but the issue is that there is a direct mismatch amongst the people that are currently unemployed and the vacancies coming through. You can’t be a call centre operative on Monday and a skilled engineer on Tuesday, which means there is an awful lot of training that needs to happen in between, which is why we’ve put a lot of effort now in encouraging companies to take on apprenticeships because quite clearly, we have to train for the future.”

The Chamber is working closely with the city mayor on his economic plan and also with Loughborough University on its business and enterprise park amongst a host of other projects. But when asked if he had any advice for new businesses, Mr Traynor added: “Leicester is a hugely entrepreneurial city and I think we have one of the highest levels of start up rates in the UK.

For anyone who is thinking about starting up a business I would say, if you’ve got a good idea then go for it because I actually think the entrepreneurial culture we have here will help you. There are schemes around to help, just don’t be frightened to ask.”

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