Rob Dunbar: A reflection on 2022


Rob Dunbar: A reflection on 2022

Our Managing Director, Rob Dunbar, reflects on 2022 and provides an insight into what he anticipates 2023 holds for GEM Partnership, as well as the recruitment and training industry.

How would you summarise 2022?

2022 was a very challenging but rewarding year for GEM Partnership. Many of our customers experienced similar issues to 2021, most notably component shortages which impacted their business and recruitment needs. Our team did a fantastic job in supporting customers and helping them to navigate through the year by providing flexible and temporary labour to meet their requirements.

From a business perspective, we had many successes and accomplishments in 2022. We are proud to have provided pre-employment training to 621 trainees, many who subsequently transitioned into employment. In addition, we had over 100 apprentices in training; 20 who completed their apprenticeship, 11 of which received a distinction and 9 a pass. I am confident that the remaining apprentices will continue to thrive and will successfully complete their apprenticeships.

Whilst recent years have been challenging for everybody, I am proud of all that we have achieved as a team here at GEM Partnership. For example, we have doubled in size over the past four years and our training division has quadrupled. In line with our growth, a key part of our strategy in 2022 was to refresh our brand, messaging, and website to better reflect the company we are today, as well as our extensive offer and in-house expertise.

We appointed Horizon Works, a B2B marketing company, to carry out this project which saw them engaging with our customers, employees and stakeholders to better understand our USPs and allow us to reposition our brand in a meaningful and representative way. Previously our specialities were delivered under sub-brands including GEM Training, GEM Premium People, GEM Professional Services, and GEM Talent Search. Now, all our services will be delivered under the one brand of GEM Partnership. This approach better reflects our position as a holistic recruitment and training specialist.

We were also delighted to have been awarded the Better Health at Work Gold Award for our dedication to employee wellbeing and our work in the local community, as well as an impressive ‘Good’ rating by Ofsted in all categories.

What’s been your biggest business highlight over the past 12 months?

We are incredibly proud of the hard work and commitment our team has shown over the past 12 months. It has been extremely challenging at times and their passion to go above and beyond for our customers has been outstanding. The North East has witnessed a serious labour shortage across all sectors and our team worked tirelessly to attract, train and retain talent to continually meet client demands. This has led to great success for the business, and we were delighted to reward our team for their hard work with an early pay rise brought forward 3 months plus 2 cost-of-living payments, one in November 2022 and one in May 2023.

What industry changes or demands did you witness in 2022?

There was a real shortage of available people in the labour market. In essence, we had to recruit twice as many people to meet the demands of our customers. However, the North East isn’t alone, there has been a lot of data published by the ALP and REC which suggest this is a country-wide issue.  For example, the latest ONS Business insights and impact on the UK economy highlights that 28% of businesses with 10 or more people were experiencing a shortage of workers, more than half reported that employees were working increased hours as a result and 40% said they were unable to meet demand.

What industry changes or advancements do you anticipate for 2023?

I think there will be a large emphasis on training to address the labour shortages. We must assist people to find jobs and careers and training will be a massive part in this, whether retraining, providing apprentice opportunities, or upskilling those in work to ensure they are constantly developing to future proof the workplace and address skills gaps.

We also have to continue to be creative and find ways to attract talent into GEM Partnership to support our customer requirements.

What does 2023 hold for GEM Partnership?

To continue to deliver recruitment and training solutions with exceptional levels of service to our clients, candidates and learners. With this ethos, we ultimately want to get as many people as we can into employment. We will also be looking to further strengthen our team with new appointments, as well as offering further training and development opportunities to our current team.

Contact our team to find out how we can help with your recruitment and training needs.


Office for National Statistics, Business insights and impact on the UK economy: 26 January 2023 – Business insights and impact on the UK economy – Office for National Statistics (

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