Manufacturers are enjoying rising sales across the region but almost half are struggling to recruit skilled workers, new research shows.
Production firms in the West Midlands are battling a skills crisis with 46 per cent unable to bring in skilled manual and technical staff, according to Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce's Quarterly Economic Survey.
However, confidence is high in the sector with 70 per cent of manufacturing firms predicting a rise in turnover in the next 12 months and 64 per cent expecting to increase profits.
A total of 46 per cent reported a rise in exports in the third quarter of the year.
Tim Pile, president of Birmingham Chamber, said the survey underlined the need for a Skills Hub, launched in Birmingham last week by Lord Heseltine, to close the skills gap in the region.
He said: "This is a remarkable performance by Greater Birmingham manufacturers. While some figures are slightly down on previous quarters, confidence about the future remains high and export figures are outstanding.
"It demonstrates the resilience and huge determination of companies in the region to maintain the impetus of success which has come out of the downturn.
"It also underlines the problems we face in skills and unemployment. That is why the Skills Hub, launched by the Chamber and colleges of education in Birmingham, is so important.
"The Skills Hub will provide a link between businesses and academia in the region to help business fine the right people to train in the required skills while providing a platform for students to seek the right job."
A total of 54 per cent of the manufacturers surveyed said they are trying to recruit but 68 per cent have and difficulties in taking on people with the right skills.
The most difficulty was in finding staff in skilled manual and technical areas but there were also problems recruiting professional and managerial staff.
Meanwhile, a total of 37 per cent of production firms reported increases in sales, compared with 43 in the second quarter.
In the service sector, 44 per cent of respondents reported rising sales in the third quarter, down from 50 per cent the quarter before.
Exports sales were also down. A total of per cent increased sales, down from 47 per cent in the second quarter.
John Mortimer, co-founder and chief executive of the Angela Mortimer group, said: "It is up to us to harness this positive momentum, and use it to grow Birmingham's huge pool of talent into a powerhouse of the future, allowing it to increase the region's contribution to the UK economy and the distribution of resultant wealth."
Andy Street, who chairs the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), said the report reflected the current optimism of businesses in the area.
He said: "To build on the momentum we have therefore the 'lead' indicators to look for will be further advances in investment intentions, a focus on training and development, and an increase in the proportion of companies exporting.
"The past three months provide vital evidence of Greater Birmingham's economic renaissance. Business is robust and we have momentum. Now is the time to build on that, both for management teams and policy makers across the city region."