There is likely a huge number of redundancies still to come in Coventry and Warwickshire, warned local business leaders.
Around 110,000 employees in Coventry and Warwickshire are currently on furlough, according to new figures.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub revealed the figures at the latest meeting of the CWLEP SME Supergroup Business Group.
CWLEP Growth Hub operations director Phil Peak revealed about 72,000 people are presently furloughed in Warwickshire and around 38,000 in Coventry.
But he said the sub-region was well placed to help businesses because of the well-established joined-up approach of business support organisations and local authorities in the region.
“The number of people that have been furloughed in Coventry and Warwickshire is sobering news,” he said.
“Concern is continuing to build about how many of these jobs are going to switch from furlough to redundancy.
“At the Growth Hub, we are working with other organisations such as the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, the FSB, local authorities, borough councils and district councils because we’re going to face a huge number of redundancies.
“We need a joined-up approach because many companies are nervous about taking on more debt. Their reserves are down and their customer base has shrunk as we move into the recovery phase.
“Some sectors like hospitality and leisure, and culture and tourism that really rely on face-to-face contact are clearly going to face a real challenge but all the business support organisations are working together to come up with solutions.
“Re-skilling the workforce is a challenge and an opportunity but we have very strong skills in our region which we need to work on.
“We have to make the most of opportunities from schemes such as HS2 and the www.finditincw.co.uk platform where businesses, particularly SMEs, can find out all about new work which is available in the private and public sector.”
Sean Farnell, chair of the CWLEP SME Supergroup Business Group, said this was a critical time as businesses focused on re-setting their companies.
“We are at the coalface and it is great to have multi-national companies based in Coventry and Warwickshire, but it is the SMEs which are going to be the drivers of change and we see this group as central to that,” he said.
“We are focused on re-setting the economy and every business whatever their size or sector needs to behave as if they are a new start-up.
“How we achieve that will be through collaboration among businesses throughout the region.
“This isn’t going to be easy and businesses are going to have to make some tough choices. I think we will see some very difficult economic conditions across our region, the UK and the world.”