Print companies are still optimistic about creating new jobs in 2018 in spite of a tough 2017 and ongoing uncertainties over skills, staffing, the economy and Brexit.
The latest edition of an annual survey from the CBI/Pertemps network group charting employment trends found that 51% of UK firms across all industries intend to grow their workforce this year. Confidence was highest among SMEs of which 58% expressed an intention to create new jobs.
However, a lack of skills among potential employees remains a big concern, with 79% highlighting it, and 63% said that changes in the UK labour market would make it a less attractive place to invest and do business this year.
Reflecting on the survey, BAPC chair Sidney Bobb stressed the importance of bringing in new people. “Employing people should be seen as an investment, not a cost. A variety of people and personalities is essential unless a company wants to stand still," he said.
“Business is all about people and the future of any growing business is based on the progression of its people. New blood always helps – the delivery boy today could be the managing director tomorrow."
“We expect to grow our turnover by £1m this year, so will be stepping up to a 24/7 shift pattern,” said managing director Gary White. “We have to be industrious and create these jobs to make sure we can achieve that.”
Uncertainty about trading conditions in the post-Brexit Northern Ireland are an issue for White, with fears over a hard border with the Republic a key concern. White said: “In Northern Ireland we are sort of out on a limb on our own and so we have to be inventive about creating these jobs, but I would like to see the government do a little more and support the creation of these jobs.
“Our hope is to expand into European territories over 2018 but we are doing so without any certainty of the situation after Brexit, which would make the process much clearer.”
Diversity was a prominent factor in the CBI survey, with a record 93% of companies saying a diverse and inclusive workforce was important to the future success of their organisation.
“I am happy to employ people regardless of gender, age, or race if they are suitable,” said White. “My main concern is the lack of young people coming into the industry because print is seen as traditional and old hat.
“Because of this, there is a severe skills shortage. We are doing our best to counteract that by hiring staff earlier than we need them to give time for training. It’s an extra expense but it will hopefully pay off in the long term.”