Small businesses in the West Midlands are predicting their strongest growth in three years but stated their biggest challenge was hiring skilled staff, according to a survey from a leading bank.
Santander Corporate & Commercial’s latest business growth research found that businesses across the region forecast 97 per cent growth on aggregate over the next five years – up significantly from 49 per cent in 2012 and 50 per cent in 2011.
However, 21 per cent of firms – the highest in the country – said they were concerned about staffing problems and the ability to retain skilled workers.
The West Midlands also saw a drop in the number of businesses stating access to finance was an obstacle to business growth, down to 17 per cent compared to 19 per cent in the previous two years. However, a lack of financial know-how was also seen as a growing concern.
The stronger UK growth figures were also matched by an upbeat outlook for employment with around one-in-eight UK companies stating that hiring new staff is an immediate priority – the highest it has been since 2011.
Leon Marklew, regional director for Santander Corporate & Commercial, said: “Understandably, many businesses remain cautious given the current environment.
“However, our latest growth survey reveals the most optimistic five-year outlook for three years. Figures that indicate firms are increasing efforts to hire new staff are also to be welcomed.”
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