Their views have become clear following a poll from financial and business advisers Grant Thornton. The survey of more than 100 local companies was conducted at the recent Buckinghamshire Limited event when Grant Thornton unveiled the findings of its annual analysis of the county’s 100 largest businesses.
The study showed another strong year of growth with increases in turnover, profitability and employment, albeit at a slower pace than previous years.
The poll results reveal that 38% of local businesses see hiring new talent as the key route to growth over the coming year, closely followed by investing in new technologies (28%).
A further 14% said acquisitions would play a vital role, with 11% citing export growth driven by the lower value of the pound and 9% increasing capital expenditure.
The survey also suggests growth will be achieved against a more challenging backdrop, with half of businesses questioned stating that current trading conditions are more difficult than 12 months ago.
A further 55% of firms polled said the Brexit vote and subsequent developments is impacting their strategic planning.
Grant Thornton director Mike Hughes pictured said: “The latest Buckinghamshire Limited results indicate the local economy is in good shape for the future and although many local firms feel business conditions are more difficult than 12 months ago, largely due to the uncertainty of Brexit, this does not seem to be dampening confidence.
“The focus on investing in people and technologies is encouraging, suggesting local businesses remain optimistic about their growth prospects and are adapting their strategies in response to the changing environment.”
However, those firms planning to invest in new staff continue to face tough competition due to the ongoing skills shortages felt across the UK as a whole. This is backed up by the poll results which found that, when it comes to recruitment, a lack of candidates with the right skills or qualifications is by far the most pressing issue (43%) followed by local availability of such talent (27%).
Businesses also highlighted the need to address the perception that Milton Keynes lacks culture and community, with 34% saying it is the most important factor in creating a more productive economy.
“Local companies are keen to recruit but skills deficits continue to make it difficult for them to find the right people to support future growth,” said Mr Hughes.
“This is creating significant competition across the employment market so firms need to ensure they are offering strong incentive packages to attract the talent they need.
“There is also the wider issue of how people view Milton Keynes as a place to live and work. The current perception does not match reality and we remain committed to further building on Milton Keynes’ strengths, working collaboratively to help create an environment where people and businesses can flourish.
“This will in turn help to draw more talent to this fantastic part of the country.”