BGCCI Update from the CEO – May 2021

Resilience and Change

May is here and we welcome the change of season with some well needed rainfall. The colours of Autumn are creeping quickly onto our landscape. For many small businesses who operate on a financial year basis this coincides with their planning cycle, a time of fervent reflection, strategising and planning for the year ahead.

On reflection, what a year it has been… This time 12 months ago, many of us were experiencing a great deal of uncertainty, no one was sure what was happening let alone what was yet to come or how long it would last. As we move forward to this year, there is still some level of caution but the sense I get from talking to our local business community is that the South West economy is prospering. Many businesses are not only rebuilding, they’re expanding. While this news is positive, there are also those within our community that continue to face challenges, and this sometimes calls for restructuring or re-evaluating business plans and direction.

As a business community I have received feedback that many businesses are incredibly busy, and struggling to find the resources they need to take some of that pressure off. As a Chamber we are working on a number of fronts to address this and help to bridge the gap. Some of our focus areas include Survey’s to inform the pain points, Jobs Fairs and Forums to link job seekers directly with employers, and agreements and activities to attract skilled resources to the region. BGCCI are also working with industry and local governments to address the short-term constraints in housing and accommodation availability.

The results of our latest Jobs and Skills Survey are in. While I am busy preparing a summary of the findings, I wanted to share a few highlights with our members. From a data pool of 152 business respondents across the SW, 72% claim to have difficulty recruiting and attracting suitably skilled and qualified people for the roles they have available. Close to 60% of businesses told us that not only are they struggling to find people, but job roles are going unfilled for more than 90 days. There is also approximately 50% of respondents that are struggling to retain their employees. This data is reinforced as we hear about long standing local businesses that have needed to close their doors and downsize due to losing their workforce to mining opportunities.

When it comes to employing from within our local market there is tension between the resources we have available and the skills that many of our businesses are seeking. Softer skills are in demand more than ever. Businesses need to be prepared to hire for attitude, aptitude and commitment and invest in training and development of their staff for long term retention.

Whether your business is thriving and expanding or pivoting and changing direction, please reach out to the Chamber. We are a valuable resource for the local business community, and we are here to support you no-matter what stage of your business journey. Over the coming months BGCCI will continue to advocate for; building the infrastructure and capability within this region, supporting businesses navigate the challenges associated with finding the right resources, as well as retaining, upskilling and re-skilling employees.




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