OPTIMISM amid a challenging environment is the message from business across the South East Midlands as companies prepare for the recovery post-pandemic.
More than a quarter say that performance has improved over the past 12 months and 40% anticipate the trend to continue in 2022. However, 34% say that business worsened in 2021.
Investment in. staff training has reduced the skills gap but the perceived lack of skilled employees remains a major constraint of growth, the annual business survey by the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership has revealed.
The survey, conducted in October and November 2021, spoke to more than 1,800 local businesses to identify economic issues and opportunities to support the growth of local businesses and the local economy.
The South East Midlands continues to be rated increasingly highly as a place to do businesses, with positive opportunities to attract inward investment. 75% of organisations surveyed rated the region as “good” or “very good’ as a place to do business. However, innovation, the green agenda and inclusive recruitment are all issues that have significant scope for future development.
A total 46% intend to become more sustainable in their operations but only 11% have a specific aim to achieve net zero.
The findings of the survey will inform and shape economic strategies and development activities over the coming year, said SEMLEP chief executive Hilary Chipping.
“While it can come as no surprise that the business environment remains challenging, many businesses are dealing with multiple, long-term obstacles,” she said. “It is pleasing to see strong economic resilience and a positive outlook coming through.
“As we head into 2022, we are optimistic about what is to come for the local business community. By delivering a wide range of business support, grants and skills programmes, we continue in our efforts to create and grow the environment for greater economic opportunity.”
SEMLEP’s senior economic analyst Claire Ackroyd said the survey’s findings were an important part of the business information SEMLEP uses to clarify its support and investment needs. “The findings of this survey particularly will help us to map the response of businesses to economic shocks, providing us and our local authority partners with important data to shape future strategies.”