Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Journal Business Barometer in Association with Newcastle Business School

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Journal Business Barometer in Association with Newcastle Business School

Article excerpt

Welsom to The Journal's new Business Barometer looking at business sentiment and confidence across the North-East. We have linked up with Newcastle Business School, part of Northumbria University, to survey key executives at the region's biggest companies, as listed in our Top 200 publication. We hope this will prove a useful tool for our readers to understand how the business community is thinking about the key issues affecting them ( and how they see the economy developing over the coming months. Here, the business school's Brian Snowdon ( professor in strategy and international business ( goes through the survey results and picks out some key findings.

DURING the past 15 years, the UK economy has experienced the longest period of macroeconomic stability in its history.

Sustained economic growth, combined with low inflation and unemployment continue to sustain high levels of business confidence at the national level.

But is such confidence also a feature of the North-East business community? The answers given to our survey, carried out by marketing agency Golley Slater, show several interesting results.

Looking ahead, the majority of respondents expected their turnover to remain the same or experience a minor increase, and most companies forecast continuing stability in their employment levels.

Companies were asked what they considered to be the most important constraints that could potentially hinder their future expansion.

Of major concern is the finding that more than 50% of respondents reported that a shortage of skilled labour was the major constraint facing them, and a further 20% identified a shortage of experienced senior management.

Only a small minority of companies identified a shortage of unskilled labour as a major constraint.

This provides some support to the research of many economists who have identified the emergence of skill gaps, driven by rapid technological change, rather than cheap imports from low wage economies, as a major source of unemployment among low skilled workers.

On the positive side, the vast majority of respondents expressed moderate to strong optimism with respect to the buoyancy of demand for their products, even in the face of an expected rise in interest rates. …

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