Wednesday 17th October 2018
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Suffolk companies stay optimistic despite mounting skills shortages

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Suffolk companies remain optimistic but skills shortages have emerged as one of the main barriers to growth for businesses in the county in a survey ahead of the launch of Suffolk Limited study looking at the performance of the county’s top 100 businesses. It showed over 52 per cent firms highlighting a lack of talent available when recruiting with junior management positions (noted by 35 pe cent) providing the most difficult to fill (34%), followed by senior management and apprentice level roles.

However over two thirds of the county’s businesses said they plan to take on an apprentice over the coming year, supported through the Apprenticeship Levy. The survey from Grant Thornton and law firm Birketts showed that despite Brexit uncertainty, some 55 per cent of Suffolk firms questioned feel confident about trading conditions over the coming year, whilst 61 per cent expect to substantially invest in new equipment, property or acquisitions and a further 54 per cent plan to increase headcount. However almost three quarters (71%) of companies stating that Brexit will negatively impact their business going forward.

Rob Thomson, director at Grant Thornton’s Ipswich office who is leading this year’s Suffolk Limited study, said: “Last year’s Suffolk Limited showed the county’s 100 largest firms delivered significant growth, primarily due to businesses continuing to improve their operational efficiency and taking a cautious attitude to investment.

“Our launch poll suggests Suffolk businesses are planning to continue this approach over the next 12 months, possibly as part of a strategy to ensure they are in the strongest position to face the challenges – and also capitalise on the opportunities – Brexit will undoubtedly present.

“The 2017 Suffolk Limited findings will help to clarify this view and build a detailed picture of the health of the county’s economy. The report will also further inform our ongoing work to help create a more progressive and productive local economy at all levels.”

Jonathan Agar, CEO at Birketts which has offices in Ipswich, added: “Availability of the right skills continues to be a key challenge for businesses not only in Suffolk but across the UK as a whole, and is an issue which threatens to hamper productivity.

“Training existing and new staff can play an important role in upskilling employees and apprenticeships are fast gaining recognition as a credible, valuable route to further education. With the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, taking on an apprentice has become more affordable and accessible for employers of all sizes. It’s positive to see so many Suffolk firms considering this move.”

The 2017 Suffolk Limited results will be unveiled at a breakfast briefing on Wednesday 29 November at Wherstead Park, Ipswich. For further information, to register your interest for the event, or to request a full copy of the report, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 10 October 2017 15:50 )