2014 – a great year for growth but still work to be done in 2015


As this year draws to a close, it’s good to reflect on what it has brought, and it has certainly delivered regionally in terms of growth opportunities for businesses and an all round confidence following economic growth. The region is becoming a real powerhouse – but if growth is to continue and flourish, there are some key areas that need addressing.

The skills shortage is an on-going concern for many industries, particularly and probably most notably engineering and manufacturing, but in many other sectors too. Recruitment is a problem for many; finding the right people is always a challenge but there is a trend for graduates choosing to join major corporations such as Jaguar Land Rover. This is a problem which has escalated this year as growth has created job opportunities, with demand for employees high and so competition is high. This is a real side effect of the region powering up following the recession.

Another key concern is access to finance; we believe is is getting increasingly harder to get finance as lenders get to grips with the Finance Conduct Authority’s (FCA) new rules and regulations, and many walking a tightrope so as not to do anything to jeopardise their position with the FCA. Businesses having a strong plan and good accounts is vital in the quest to access finance – and will be increasingly so. The housing market could also be affected as the self-certification days for mortgages are long gone.

Overall, it’s been a good year, and the challenges that face the economy are factors that will be overcome in time, as the demand for skills and the availability of skills become more balanced – not an overnight process but certainly one that will occur. The West Midlands is in a great place, but needs to keep up and pick up the pace to rival Greater Manchester and avoid lagging behind in terms of economic growth, HS2 or no HS2!