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Companies have their say - SEMLEP Business Survey 2015 results

13 October 2015

Business support, an improved transport infrastructure and funding for new investments and projects are top of the wish list for businesses in the South East Midlands.

These are just a few of the results, unveiled today, from the region’s largest annual business survey, commissioned by the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) to identify key challenges and opportunities that face local businesses.

Over 1,900 businesses in Aylesbury Vale, Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Cherwell, Corby, Daventry, Kettering, Luton, Milton Keynes, Northampton and South Northamptonshire were interviewed and questioned about access to business support, business growth, skills shortages and other issues including level of innovation and collaboration with universities.

When asked what SEMLEP should focus on to help businesses and the local economy grow, one in five businesses requested business support in the form of advice, promotion and networking opportunities.

Hilary Chipping, Acting Chief Executive of SEMLEP, said: “Our Velocity Growth Hub was launched to do exactly this and is one of the best performing in the country. Velocity supports ambitious small to medium sized businesses with one to one advice, workshops and grants and we will continue to focus on Velocity to ensure we provide businesses with all that they need.

“Funding and infrastructure were also identified as priorities in this survey and earlier this year we secured significant investment via two Local Growth Deals, worth a combined £126million. We are also now inviting businesses to bid for a slice of European Structural Investment Funding (ESIF), worth around £79m which will be delivered over the next six years.”

One fifth of businesses across the South East Midlands was found to be led by women, with women-led businesses particularly highly represented in the sectors of education and health (44%) and arts, recreation and other services (41%). Over a third of businesses in Milton Keynes (36%) were found to have women at the helm.

A quarter of businesses (25%) had heard of SEMLEP before taking part in the survey, which compares with just 9% in 2014 and 8% in 2013.  SEMLEP awareness has increased to 31% of businesses with 100 or more employees at that site.

Hilary added: “SEMLEP is committed to supporting businesses of all sizes and we are delighted that by working in partnership with local authorities and private sector partners we are recognised for the work we do. Together with our business growth hub Velocity, SEMLEP is here to support resident businesses, promote the area at a national and international level, attract and bolster investment into the area and to ensure the South East Midlands is prioritised for funding.”

Other key findings:

  • Skills shortages and gaps: A third of businesses (33%; 38% in 2014) reported skill gaps within their existing workforce. Skills lacking within existing workforces were identified as IT skills (11%), sales and marketing skills (11%), technical or practical (10%) and/or job specific skills (10%).
  • Apprenticeships: Around one in 10 businesses (9%) currently employs someone on an Apprenticeship programme. The proportion of businesses with apprentices increases to more than a quarter of those with between 50 and 99 employees (28%) and a third of those with 100 or more employees (34%) at their site.
  • Innovation: One in eight businesses (12%) has any links with universities or colleges for research and development (R & D) purposes.  This is the same proportion as reported in 2014.  The proportion increases with business size to 22% of businesses with between 10 and 49 employees and 39% of those with 100 or more employees at their site. More than a quarter of businesses (28%) have introduced new products, services, patents or processes in the last twelve months.  This compares with a similar proportion in 2014 (29%). 

View the complete SEMLEP Business Survey HERE and our Business Survey infographic HERE.

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