Businesses in the West Midlands are creating jobs but access to labour and skills is a major concern according to a new study.

The annual CBI Pertemps employment trends survey claimed 43 per cent of more than 100 West Midlands businesses that responded expect to hire more staff this year, slightly below the UK average of 45 per cent.

However, almost two-thirds of West Midlands firms (63 per cent) say limited access to labour is a threat to competitiveness, while 87 per cent of the region’s firms reported struggling to access the skills they need to succeed.

Richard Butler, CBI West Midlands regional director, said:“While the West Midlands job market is in good health, these latest figures make clear that labour and skills shortages are already biting hard. The figures also show a worrying trend that there aren’t enough sufficiently skilled people to fill the number of job vacancies.

“Business and the Government need to plug the skills gap and champion the flexible labour market on which our economic strength relies, to ensure investment continues to flow in.”

In the West Midlands, more than half of businesses surveyed said they are prioritising gender diversity, with one-in-five making changes to progression routes to help women into management jobs with 95 per cent of West Midlands firms apparently moving to reduce the gender pay gap.

Last month, employment figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that despite a nationwide rise in employment, unemployment in the West Midlands rose by 11,000, second only to the increase seen in the North East.

MP for Worcester Robin Walker said the rise in employment was proof of a strong retail and business sector in the region.

Responding, Labour parliamentary candidate Lynn Denham said: "I know that too many people are in poorly paid, insecure jobs. With rising prices, this means even full time work leaves families struggling to make ends meet."