THOUSANDS of jobs could be up for grabs in the North East as the region's fastest growing industries are revealed in a new report.

Analysis of ONS data reveals that the transport and storage sector was the fastest growing in the region between 2017 and 2021, with the number of businesses growing by close to a quarter (23.3%). Sunderland saw the industry’s fastest growth out of all local authorities in the region, rising by 85.7% to 585 businesses in 2021.

However, while transport was on the up, industries such as retail, wholesale and finance and insurance all saw the number of businesses shrink in the same period. Finance and insurance saw the number of the business shrink by 6.1% in the last year alone.

With growing demand for online delivery during the Covid-19 crisis, the transport and storage sector weathered the pandemic to remain the fastest growing, with an additional 440 businesses in the last year.

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Sunderland remained the region’s hotspot for transport and storage businesses with the sharpest growth.

Despite being amongst the fastest growing sectors between 2017 and 2021, the accommodation and food and construction industries slipped down the growth charts in 2021, as the economy grappled with the pandemic.

As hospitality businesses and construction sites were forced to close, these industries were replaced by motortrades and wholesale which took the second and third highest spots in 2021.

The growth of the transport industry in the North East could mean more jobs for people in a region which was hit hard by the pandemic. Official data recorded 52,000 vacancies in the transport and storage industry in the UK in Q3 - an increase of 56% on the previous three months.

The Northern Echo: Christoph RiecheChristoph Rieche

Christoph Rieche, CEO and co-founder of iwoca, one of Europe’s largest small business lenders, who produced the report, said: “As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, it’s positive to see so many industries grow and new businesses being created despite the difficulties. At iwoca we’re committed to providing businesses across the North East with the support they need to get back to doing what they do best. Given the pressures small businesses now face - from inflation to supply chain issues - it is vital that we provide all the support we can.”

Peter Coleman, owner of Alpha7Express Ltd, a North East-based transport company, said: “There’s definitely no slowing down as of yet. We’re experiencing the busiest and highest peak I’ve seen in five years, and even before the pandemic we were always kept busy.”

“At the moment, there are lots of jobs out there for transport workers as since the pandemic, a lot of people have been turning to online shopping. January and February are generally the quietest months of the year, but I don’t forecast them being as quiet as they have been for the past few years.”

“I have friends and peers around the North East in a variety of sectors and they’re a lot busier and happier recently.”

Since May 2020, iwoca has lent close to £400 million to SMEs across the UK via the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.



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