Confidence high in county manufacturing industries but firms struggle to find skilled staff

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Manufacturing business in Northamptonshire are struggling to find skilled staff, according to Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce’s latest quarterly economic survey.

The report, which questioned 90 firms, also reveals that confidence remains at a high in manfuacturing with 97 percent expecting turnover to improve or stay the same in the next 12 months.

In the service sector, the picture is much the same. Ninety-five percent expect turnover and 94 percent expect profitability to improve or remain the same over the coming year.

Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The QES for the second quarter of 2014 shows the continuing optimism of Northants firms and once again reflects strong performances by companies.

“It is positive to hear that more businesses intend to increase their workforce as job creation is an important factor to the economic recovery.

“Manufacturers have long cited issues with finding skilled staff to fulfil positions. The government needs to work more with businesses and the education sector to inspire young people into these roles so that the UK can truly be a manufacturing global success.”

The results of the survey are based on the second quarter of the year.

In terms of employment, 97 percent of the manufacturing respondents’ workforce had increased or remained the same during the quarter, with 64% expecting their workforce to increase over the coming three months. Both results were up on the first quarter.

Meanwhile 97 percent of service firms expect their workforce to increase or stay the same over the next three months – broadly similar levels to Q1.

More companies had attempted to recruit new employees in Q2 with 58 percent of respondents trying to hire new staff (up from 50 percent on Q1), 95 percent of manufacturing (up from 92 percent) and 70 percent of service (up from 66 percent) opportunities were for full-time jobs.

The survey also reveals that 71 percent of manufacturing (up from 55 percent) and 44 percent of service sector (down from 49 percent) respondents who tried to recruit experienced difficulties in finding staff. In particular, the challenges related to sourcing skilled manual/technical staff.

Focusing on national trade, 67 percent of respondents from the manufacturing sector reported an increase in UK sales, while 90 percent of service companies stated that sales had increased or stayed the same over the last quarter (95 percent prior quarter) highlighting a similar position to Q1.

Export sales and orders remained in positive territory this quarter with continuing strong results in all measures. The survey showed 94 percent of manufacturers export sales’ remained the same or increased over the last three months with 67 percent reporting increased sales.

The service sector continues to flourish with 96 percent reporting level or increased export sales over the last three months and an equivalent number reporting level or increased advance orders.