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SEMLEP’s Business Survey identifies innovation levels are back to pre-pandemic highs

12 January 2024

The 7th edition of the biannual SEMLEP Business Survey has identified that innovation levels across the South East Midlands have risen above (27%) to pre-pandemic levels (26%), demonstrating more businesses have introduced new products, services and patents to market since 2021.

The report also highlighted that skills gaps in the current workforce have become less common over time, with 12% of businesses able to list at least one skill they felt their current staff were lacking. This was lower than the 16% seen in 2021, continuing a downward trend in the proportion of employers with skills gaps seen since the survey was first conducted in 2014 (38%).

The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union was only explicitly mentioned as a constraint to growth by 3% in the 2023 survey (similar to the 4% seen in 2021), with only 45% able to comment a specific negative impact (down from 55% in 2021). However, a more specific question identified continued issues around importing from the EU (albeit less so than in 2021), increased costs of business, exporting to the EU and labour availability amongst larger businesses. Whilst there is a lot of goodwill and good intentions towards cutting carbon and becoming more environmentally friendly, solid commitments to targets and deadlines are few and far between, although with some subtle positive change. Other key takeaways include:

• Overall, the South East Midlands area is a positive business environment
• Businesses offering apprenticeship programmes have risen to 11% from 7% in 2021, returning to pre-COVID levels
• Only 21% of businesses are actively adopting inclusive recruitment practices
• Businesses believe that infrastructure improvements and investment are the most important factors in increasing economic growth across the region

If you’d like to read more about the report's findings, the full report is available to download here.

Hilary Chipping, Chief Executive of SEMLEP says:
“The 2023 Business Survey again demonstrates how valuable it is to understand the challenges businesses are facing throughout the South East Midlands. These insights allow SEMLEP, the Growth Hub and the Local Authorities throughout the region to continue to deliver services and programmes that answer the needs of businesses. It’s also fantastic to see innovation levels rise above pre-pandemic levels, further showcasing the South East Midlands as a region of growth and innovation. As we head into 2024, the business survey will allow us to shape future strategies, services and programmes to ensure we’re meeting the demands of businesses. Thank you to all businesses who participated.”

How the report is compiled
The biennial Business Survey was conducted throughout October and November 2023 and is compiled by interviewing 1,882 businesses, representative of the business population in the area, on a range of topics regarding business performance and challenges.
The purpose of the survey is to identify economic issues and opportunities to support the growth of local businesses and the local economy.

View the 2023 Business Survey

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