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My name is Rhys, a first time dad blogging about my adventures and experiences of being a parent. [email protected]

Economic Situation Sees Business Opportunities Fall Out of Line with Unemployment Rates

Money is pouring into the Welsh business sector but, according to recent statistics, workers aren’t. More specifically, job opportunities aren’t running in step with the increased support for local businesses. The latest unemployment figures for Wales[1]show an increase of 1.1% from 3.5% to 4.6% in the three months to March 2023. That’s a far cry from the highs of the nineties and mid-noughties. However, what the increase does suggest is that current economic conditions are causing problems within the business sector.

What’s also interesting though, as we’ve said, is that money is available. Indeed, when you read about companies such as Halo Therapeutics receiving £1.52 million in funding[2] it’s clear there are ways to keep the local business economy moving forward. What’s more, we know local businesses are expanding. PetPlace unveiled a new 25,000 sq ft store in Llangefni on May 13, 2023[3].

How to Align to Contrasting Dynamics

The question, therefore, is how to align these two contrasting dynamics. Businesses capable of surviving tough economic conditions need workers and people need jobs. Recruiting locally is the obvious solution. That would reduce the local unemployment rate and aid the Welsh economy. Recruitment agencies are the most effective way of getting local workers, but don’t underestimate the power of social media. A few well-crafted posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram could unearth some hidden talent.

Problems arise, however, when there’s a local skills shortage. Not all jobs are suitable for all people. Indeed, there aren’t many jobs at Halo Therapeutics that would be suitable for someone without a science degree. This gap between job opportunities and skilled workers is one of the reasons Welsh unemployment rates could be out of sync with a seemingly buoyant business sector. If that’s the case, looking further afield for employees is necessary.

British businesses have long been international recruiters. As per the government’s 2021 statistics, 6 million people from overseas were employed in the UK. Welsh businesses can, and probably should, tap into this stream of skilled workers. The way to do this is via the sponsorship licence visa scheme. Formerly known as a Tier 2 sponsor licence, a sponsor licence lasts for four years and gives employers the legal right to hire foreign nationals. Put simply, it’s a licence that allows an employer to sponsor overseas workers to work in the UK. Foreign nationals will then be able to apply for a skilled worker visa ahead of taking a job (with the company) in the UK.

Outsourcing is Crucial

Naturally, like all things legal and immigration-based, there are mounds of paperwork and reels of red tape to cut through. Immigration lawyers versed in the nuances of sponsorship licences are invaluable in this regard. Business owners should understand the value of delegation in order to maximise efficiency and turnover. Immigration lawyers not only do a lot of the legal legwork, they ensure you don’t hit any snags.

There are costs, both financial and time-related, involved in recruiting skilled workers from overseas. That’s time you probably don’t have, which is why someone versed in the nuances of sponsorship licences, including basic requirements such as you (as an employer) being “honest” and having an adequate HR system to fulfil your obligations. What all of this amounts to is another system you can use in an effort to keep your business moving forward during tough economic times.

We know there are funding opportunities and ways to expand, even when the economy is suffering. We also know there are unemployed people needing jobs. Some of these people can fill certain roles, but others may be left vacant due to a skills shortage. That’s where sponsorship licences can be useful. With the right guidance and a willingness to look beyond the borders of Wales, it’s more than possible to grow your business.

Further Reading