Labour shortages are already creating huge challenges in the Cumbrian economy, according to a Bank of England representative who spoke with Carlisle businesses today.

Andrew Hebden, the Bank of England’s agent for the North East and Cumbria, told the Carlisle Business Seminar many businesses around the county were telling him that with near full employment in some areas recruitment was increasingly problematic.

He told the business breakfast event: “Cumbria has very low unemployment which is a good thing, but a huge challenge here and very noticeable when you speak to businesses.”

“I’ve seen the efforts that in-Cumbria and Choose Cumbria are making to attract more talent to the here and that’s good to see because the area has so much going for it and is a great place to live and work.”

His assessment was endorsed by many of the delegates among the 30 businesses attending the event at the Crown & Mitre Hotel.

Jeanett Alberti, of Link Recruitment agency in Carlisle, described the problems created by skills shortages in Cumbria as ‘massive’, adding: “We can’t supply customers and can’t find the skills they are looking for.”

Skilled professions such as accountants, solicitors, engineers and surveyors were some of the problem areas, she said.

Link Recruitment was hoping to see Universal Credit bring more flexibility into the job market, allowing people to do a few days work when it was available without a big impact on their benefits, she added.

Mr Hebden said he hoped that businesses would take a positive message from his briefing.

“The outlook on the economy is that it is going to grow – yes it might be a modest growth but growth is good so we should be positive about that

It is a mixed picture across different sectors but Cumbria has plenty of reasons to be positive,” he said.

The seminar was organised by Cumbrian Business Doctor Peter Fleming and accountant Darren Moynan, of MoynanSmith, and is the first of three breakfast events they are organising this year.

“What I liked about today was not just that we got briefings from Darren and Andrew, but that we heard from a real mix of businesses about their experiences and what’s happening in their sectors.

"To get that kind of feedback from nearly 30 businesses was really valuable,” Mr Fleming said.