More than half of East Midlands businesses plan to create jobs and hire new people to drive business growth in the next 12-months, according to new research by the regional office of business and financial advisers Grant Thornton UK LLP.
52% of the region’s firms taking part in the survey, said hiring new people will be the top driver for growth in their business this year, with 61% of Leicestershire firms, 55% of Lincolnshire firms and 40% of Nottinghamshire businesses saying new talent will be the main growth enabler.
However, Grant Thornton’s survey also reveals that businesses see the ongoing shortage of skills and talent as a potential threat to their recruitment plans and growth ambitions, with 45% of Nottinghamshire businesses, 31% of Lincolnshire firms and 27% of Leicestershire companies saying relationships between educational establishments and local businesses must improve if the region’s talent pipeline shortage is to be fixed.
As well as investing in people, firms are set to bring new technologies into their operations. According to the survey, 29% of Nottinghamshire firms say this will be important to achieving their growth plans, with 27% of Lincolnshire and 24% of Leicestershire businesses agreeing.
But businesses say the region’s transport and infrastructure are inadequate and must be improved if businesses are to thrive, with two-thirds (60%) of firms saying improvements are also vital for attracting high quality talent into the region, and for the East Midlands to be seen as a desirable place to live and work.
Brexit (27%) and economic growth (28%) continue to concern East Midlands’ firms, but regional businesses are more positive about improvements in the availability of finance, with the vast majority citing ‘significant improvement’ in availability of finance to fund growth, and 81% of Lincolnshire firms, 75% of Leicestershire businesses, and 75% of Nottinghamshire companies, saying access has got better in the last 12-months.
Grant Thornton’s East Midlands’ team carried out the survey at events across the region last month, held to mark the launch of the East Midlands Top 200 Report 2018, which is produced annually in partnership with the CBI.
Commenting on the survey’s findings, Mark Pashley, Director at the firm’s East Midlands office in Leicester, said: “It is encouraging that many regional businesses are focussed on sustaining growth, with plans to create jobs, hire people and invest in technology to drive and deliver this.
“Our survey asked East Midlands businesses how they are finding business conditions today compared to 12 months ago, and the picture is quite different across the region.
“In Leicestershire, opinions are varied, with 38% saying business conditions are a little more difficult now than in 2017, but 30% say things are a little more positive. 43% of Nottinghamshire firms say business conditions are the same as they were 12-months ago, whilst 41% of Lincolnshire firms feel more positive than they did this time last year.”
He adds: “This year’s East Midlands Top 200 report showed that the region’s top performing businesses have grown profits by an average 35% and already together provide more than 48,000 jobs across a vast range of sectors from logistics and construction to manufacturing and finance, further highlighting the business diversity of the East Midlands.
“East Midlands businesses are certainly getting on and making positive decisions, and in the main, looking forward with optimism. The region continues to perform strongly for business growth, particularly when compared to the rest of the UK. All of this bodes well for the overall future growth and prosperity of the region.”
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