UNEMPLOYMENT in the North-East has declined by 1.3 per cent over the year, the largest change in the country, latest figures show.

The statistics demonstrate that the region is recovering from the economic crisis, the North East England Chamber of Commerce said.

Read more: Jobs website for vacancies at Darlington's economic campus goes live

Niamh Corcoran, policy adviser at the chamber, said: “While unemployment has decreased, employment levels are recovering at a slower pace, having fallen by 2.1 per cent over the year.

“In part, this may be explained by a decline in migration and a decline in older women, men in their 50s, and students entering the workforce – partly due to ill health.

“Nationally, job vacancies have hit a 20-year high of 1.1 million in the last quarter. There is a risk that acute staff and skills shortages will stall the region’s economic recovery.

“To support businesses in finding the skilled workers they need, Government needs to add jobs to the Shortage Occupations List and create temporary migration routes for workers from overseas.

“A significant effort is also needed to improve the quality and quantity of the domestic labour force.

“Government should tackle the barriers to training and employment that many face, such as ill-health or caring responsibilities.

“ In addition, targeted employment support is needed for the long-term unemployed, as well as individuals who are frequently left out of the labour market, such as those who are disabled or older.

“To ensure the workforce can meet future business skills needs, companies must invest now in employee skills and work more closely with education providers to develop a strong local talent pipeline.”

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