Recruitment struggles look set to lead business challenges in 2018

Norfolk Chamber of Commerce president Jonathan Cage, managing director of Create Consulting Engineers. Picture: Lauren De Boise/Archant

Norfolk Chamber of Commerce president Jonathan Cage, managing director of Create Consulting Engineers. Picture: Lauren De Boise/Archant


Rising prices and struggles to recruit look set to be common themes in 2018 as businesses seek to come to terms with enduring uncertainty.

Businesses are expecting to see significant increases in costs over the next 12 months, according to the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce’s quarterly economic survey.

The study found a +49% balance of service firms expecting their prices to rise and a +54% balance among manufacturing companies.

The stark recruitment situation was also laid bare by the survey, with 83% of service businesses reporting increasing difficulties in finding workers, while 73% of manufacturing firms said the same.

Against this backdrop Norfolk Chamber public affair manager Nova Fairbank said it was important for employers to “act rather than just complain” on skills.

Norfolk chamber president Jonathan Cage, managing director of Create Consulting Engineers, said recruitment was a challenge that was particularly keenly felt in Norfolk and a decrease in foreign workers since the Brexit vote had not helped the situation. He said: “I think there are lots of companies that do want to grow and if you can’t get resources, materials or staff to do the work, it is really frustrating. It can get to the point where you feel you are missing opportunities. The danger is [they] look elsewhere.”

Mr Cage said he thought the first three months of 2018 would be good for most businesses but there may be a pinch during the middle of the year as negotiations with the EU continued and could damage confidence.

However, despite difficulties recruiting some companies are determined to forge ahead with expansion plans.

Discussing the findings of the QES, digital agency Big Fork said it was eyeing expansion into London and the Midlands and had a full order book for the first quarter of 2018.

Director Mark Ellaway said: “We have been working on business planning for the next year and are looking to grow the business, not just locally but outside the area as well, into East Anglia, London and further into the Midlands.”

<n>• A full video report on the quarterly economic survey is available on the EDP24 website, featuring interviews with Chamber president Jonathan Cage, Big Fork’s Mark Ellaway and Folliard Hydraulics.

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