Global survey finds growing workplace skills shortage as possible threat to booming business optimism

  • Global business optimism hits all time quarterly high of +51% - five consecutive quarters of increases;
  • Plans to increase hiring over next year reaches record level of 36%;
  • But percentage of businesses who identify a lack of skilled workers as a constraint has increased to just over one in three (35%) - highest level ever.

LONDON--()--New figures from Grant Thornton’s International Business Report, a quarterly global survey of 2,500 businesses in 36 economies, reveal that while business optimism is rising to new highs, a storm may be brewing in the shape of a skilled worker shortage.

Global business optimism has hit a record quarterly high of +51% in Q2 2017, representing five consecutive quarters of increases. Business optimism in the US is at an all-time high of 81%, the EU has jumped to a two year high (50%), and optimism remains at 48% in China - a near three year high.

Underpinning this, global revenue expectations also equal their all-time quarterly high of 56%, as do expectations around increased profitability (47%). However, a less welcome milestone is also set this quarter. The percentage of businesses who identify a lack of skilled workers as a constraint has increased to just over one in three (35%) - its equal highest quarterly level ever.

Francesca Lagerberg, Global Leader at Grant Thornton, comments:

“It would be easy to analyse these figures as unbroken good news for the business community. But there is a major warning light flashing, in the shape of a skilled worker shortage. Despite firms telling us they plan to hire more staff, we’ve seen a steady increase in fears that a lack of skilled workers could hamper future growth.”

“Addressing skills shortages is a difficult balancing act. The message to businesses from these findings is to plan and prepare for spending more to ensure the skills needed to drive future growth. Increasing wages is a short-term measure but longer-term, businesses will need to look at training programmes to boost skills among existing workers, and even working more closely with education institutions to ensure the right skills are being taught at an early age.”

Contacts

Grant Thornton
John Vita
312-602-8955
John.vita@gti.gt.com

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