London's businesses want to grow to match the recovering economy, but are being held back by a lack of skilled workers, according to study out yesterday from the London Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and ComRes.
Growth will improve this year, according to 42 per cent of businesses in the capital.
As a result, 37 per cent expect their own business to improve, while 12 per cent expect a deterioration.
That upbeat forecast comes despite fears that export demand is falling and domestic demand growth is slowing down. But although firms want to grow, they are having trouble hiring staff and with their energy bills.
Over half of those who tried to hire staff in the past quarter had difficulty getting the right skills – up from 45 per cent three months ago.
The problems are across the board, split almost evenly between a shortage of skilled manual or technical workers, and professional and managerial roles.
Increasing costs are also a problem – 35 per cent of firms said energy costs are going up, while 27 per cent said the cost of raw materials is rising, and 25 per cent said there is increasing pressure from workers for higher wages.
“Despite the increased support for first-time exporters announced in the Autumn Statement, it is imperative that cross-governmental support is developed to help businesses to export,” said LCCI chief Colin Stanbridge.
“It is key that the Home Office look to reduce visa restrictions on overseas business visitors, to help develop relationships with overseas markets.”
He also called for more investment in training apprentices to help close the skills gap.