Buoyant West Lothian job sector thanks to new starts

Tuesday June 6th 2023


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Stuart Sommerville

New start businesses are helping boost the West Lothian jobs market and keep unemployment below 3%.

The figures reflect a pre-pandemic historic low in the county. And new starts are worth £16m to the local economy every year, Jim Henderson, the council’s Business Development Manager told councillors.

Mr Henderson gave an update on the Business Gateway teams success over the year to members of the councils Economy, Community Empowerment and Wealth Building Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel today.

The Business Gateway team is part of the council’s Economic Development service. Business Gateway provides confidential and impartial support to residents looking to start-up in business, local firms, new and existing Third sector organisations and major employers.

All engagement with Business Gateway is client-led. Support is provided to individual clients and business owners/decision makers.

Mr Henderson told councillors: “Across West Lothian, the Business Gateway team supported 308 new start firms in 2022/23. These businesses created 416 new jobs.

“The main business sectors are personal, professional and local services. Around 20% of all early stage firms go on to take premises, employ staff and grow the scale of the business. “New starts are worth over £16.1 million to the local economy every year.

“The vision and commitment of local people to start their own business, especially in such challenging economic circumstances from 2020, is commendable.”

The Business Gateway team also includes advisers who deal with existing, growing and relocating firms to West Lothian.

The advisers provided direct support to 622 local firms in the financial year to the end of March 2023. This included 79 social enterprises. Priority sectors for the council include life sciences, manufacturing, engineering, construction and enabling technologies.

Advisers support firms across West Lothian who have combined annual sales in excess of £1.41 billion per annum. These businesses employ over 12,000 staff, this represents 15% of total jobs in West Lothian.

Mr Henderson said all firms were reporting difficulties in recruitment. “The jobs market in West Lothian is buoyant with unemployment below 3%, similar to the pre-pandemic historic low. And a record-high level of job vacancies.

“Firms across West Lothian in all sectors are reporting unfilled vacancies. This pattern is repeated across much of Scotland and the UK. We are working with Employability colleagues to match job seekers with vacancies. In addition, we are supporting firms to invest in training and up-skilling their existing employees.”

Categories: Economy

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