Survey highlights business fears


A survey published today by the Chartered Management Institute compounds fears for business across the South West, in the run up to 2009.

It shows that managers and business leaders in the region are concerned about rising business costs, low levels of credit, the impact of employee disputes and low skill levels.
The survey shows that senior executives in the South West are nervous about the year ahead.  Asked specifically about business prospects for their organisations, 28% in the region said they are ‘pessimistic’ about 2009.  Those who are ‘uncertain’ about what next year will bring has risen to 24%, up from 20% last year and 4% in 2007.
Unsurprisingly, it is clear from the findings that business confidence in the South West is being eroded by the economic climate and the knock-on effect of cash-flow problems.  61% say that rising energy costs will have a negative impact on their business next year, while 44% say that the availability of credit will create problems.  Some also focus on the cost of redundancies with 39% expressing concerns over ‘employment disputes’ and 50% worried about the impact of labour shortages.
Respondents in the region also remain concerned that efforts to kick-start the economy may stall, with 81% suggesting consumer spending will plummet despite the recent drop in interest rates.  76% believe that household debt will increase over the next 12 months and 50% say rising levels of personal debt will hit business in the New Year.
Yet it seems that, despite the pessimism in the marketplace, individuals across the South West are motivated to succeed.  20% still intend to change jobs next year and 5% plan to start their own business.  24% also want to build their personal profile and 21% are committed to developing business contacts or networks.
However, it is clear that these individuals recognise the need to ‘get qualified’ as a route to employability, with 31%t in the region claiming they intend to take up a qualification or course in the New Year and 29% resolving to ‘build transferable skills’.
Against this backdrop, 5 out of 10 employers in the South West suggested that gaps at the ‘higher end’ of the skills spectrum will have a negative impact on their performance in 2009.  The problem is compounded with 57% predicting a decrease in training and development, up from 18 per cent last year. 
Jo Causon, director, marketing and corporate affairs at the Chartered Management Institute, says: “No one should be surprised at this level of uncertainty.  However, the drop in the number of organisations developing their senior teams is disappointing, particularly given fears over staff available with the ability to lead their way out of the downturn.  Now, more than ever, is the time to invest wisely because if organisations think that developing competence is expensive, they should also consider the cost of failure and mistakes.”
Respondents were asked to provide a long-term forecast after revealing plans to spend less at Christmas.  The survey found that, although the proportion of employers still hosting parties remains high, many refused to make a financial contribution to ‘office celebrations’ this year.