News Article

Businesses are Feeling More Positive About the Future

The findings from the South West Business Survey, undertaken by SERIO, suggest that businesses view the worst of the downturn to be over, with nearly a third indicating they are more confident about their future prospects compared with the previous year.

On average, businesses indicate that they have grown in a number of areas over the past 12 months and anticipate this continuing to a greater degree over the coming year. In addition, around half of businesses indicated they have plans to expand to some extent, however this is a decline from around two-thirds in 2005, suggesting businesses are still cautious. In terms of staffing levels, a tenth of South West businesses indicated that their staff numbers are growing, which is higher than the national figure of 7%.

As in 2005 (when this survey was last undertaken), a lack of consumer demand remains the key barrier to business growth. However, the current research has seen a lack of investment becoming a more significant barrier. While a lack of suitable staff remains a barrier for 11% of businesses, this aspect has seen a decline from 24% in 2005.

Despite a decline in the number of businesses identifying suitable staff as a barrier to business growth, hard to fill vacancies were an issue for nearly a quarter of businesses, with the main cause of these being a lack of suitably skilled applicants (66%). In addition, a quarter of businesses within the South West indicated that staff are not fully proficient at their jobs, higher than the national figure of 19%. Both skills gaps and hard to fill vacancies were most commonly reported in sales and customer service occupations.

Despite employers considering insufficient training and staff development to be the major cause of skills gaps in their organisation (48%), just 53% of employers had provided training or development in the previous 12 months, compared with 60% nationally, and the majority of businesses (59%) did not plan to increase their training budget over the coming year.

A total of 759 businesses participated in the South West Business Survey. If you would like to receive a summary of the findings please contact SERIO on

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