Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce has revealed manufacturing sales both home and abroad have increased to levels not seen for 18 months.
The chamber’s quarterly economic survey for the third quarter of 2015 found half of businesses increased sales and orders over the past three months.
The report, supported by recruitment and people development agency Katie Bard, echoes the positive outlook in the recent manufacturing outlook survey from EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, and global law firm DLA Piper.
The chamber survey showed manufacturers increased home market sales to 50 per cent, up 10 per cent from the previous quarter. Orders were also buoyant with 52 per cent reporting an increase from 37 per cent in the previous quarter.
Manufacturers who increased export sales rose from 35 per cent to 50 per cent and those increasing orders were also up to 50 per cent from 36 per cent.
In addition an increasing number of manufacturers are taking on more staff. Forty-four per cent said they had increased their workforce in the past three months with 43 per cent expecting to do so in the next three months.
But the skills shortage was still evident with 75 per cent of companies saying that they had experienced difficulties in recruitment.
Paul Faulkner, chief executive of the chamber, said: “Sales figures are extremely encouraging but we must retain a sense of proportion because we are starting from the low levels we experienced in the middle of the downturn.
“The fact that we are creating more jobs shows that confidence is slowly returning to business and reflects improving employment figures across the region.
“Our own experience through the Chamber Skills Hub we created 12 months ago is that there are many young people with the skills to make a positive entry into the workplace using vocational learning.
“More and more employers are finding that as their workforce ages there is a real requirement to address a succession plan and it is incumbent on employers to understand their training needs and how they can start to address them.”
The number of manufacturers confident turnover would improve in the next year was down to 64 per cent from 66 per cent but far more (71 per cent against 54 per cent in the previous quarter) expected profitability to improve. Service industries reporting increased UK sales were up slightly (45 per cent against 40 per cent) while orders in the home market reached 34 per cent against 32 per cent.