Businesses in the UK should be seeking to make the most of increased certainty to support recovery and profitable growth
With further reports indicating that financial buoyancy is returning to the UK economy, confidence is certainly on the increase for consumers. Analysts at Deloitte recently claimed that 2015 could in fact be the best year for households since 2005, as consumer finances start to normalise and spending activity accelerates. In fact, Deloitte’s consumer tracker has now climbed to its highest level since it began in 2011.
It’ll come as little surprise to hear that businesses will be eager to capitalise on this positive outlook to really ensure they gain the momentum needed to recover and, more importantly, achieve profitable growth. Whilst there is of course a combination of factors behind whether organisations accomplish this or not, a particularly critical aspect is having access to necessary skills, ones that will play a vital role in enabling businesses to bounce back, maintain a significant pace of growth and, from a broader perspective, contribute to the overall recovery of the economy.
According to latest findings from the FDs’ Satisfaction Survey, run in association with the ICAEW and the FDs’ Excellence Awards, finding the right skills was highlighted as one of the biggest challenges facing businesses. The results – which were based on a scale of one to five where one indicates “really difficult for your business right now” – stated that 28% of FDs and CFOs rated the issue of finding the right employee a score of two, while 35% gave a score of three.
Comparatively, when asked to provide the same rating against access to finance, 31% and 26% scored this as four and five respectively, indicating just how highly FDs and CFOs view obtaining the right employees and skill sets when it comes to business growth opportunities.
With the impacts of the credit crunch still felt across all sectors, it’s now critical for organisations to ensure they have the capabilities to navigate themselves through this recovery period successfully, to reach a position of strong growth. Getting the right skills into teams is vital to making this possible.
Close Brothers, the SME finance lender, put the spotlight on this further in April, announcing a scheme that will see it paying a proportion of the wages of 60 apprenticeships at small businesses in manufacturing, which are financially unable to take on trainees, over the next three years. This commitment by the British bank has been made in a bid to support on-the-job learning and, more importantly, prevent a skills shortage across the sector, which could have a serious impact on broader economic recovery.
With this period of positive transition comes opportunities for increased foreign investment, accelerating the economic recovery further. If reports are to be believed, Chinese, European and American investors are eagerly looking into British business investment options, highlighting significant benefits to be gained for the UK. But these are only going to be truly maximised if UK organisations are able to provide a rich pool of talent and the skills required to power such developments.
The downturn has really magnified just how important skills investment is to the economy. With confidence now on the up and the outlook more positive, organisations must ensure they are focusing on the areas that will continue to drive recovery and profit growth.