Tech firms in the South West remain optimistic about their prospects in 2018 according to the region’s annual survey carried out by Tech South West.
The survey looks at how technology firms across Bath, Bristol, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire are performing and what their expectations are for 2018.
It found that more than 85% of firms are positive about prospects in the year ahead, with two thirds expecting it to be a better year for their business than 2017. But, 12% believe next year will be worst than 2017, in contrast to this time last year, when no firm went into the start of the year expecting worsening prospects.
There is concern that a lack of talent is holding back greater growth, with 43% of respondents saying the lack of availability of people with the right skills is the main obstacle to stronger growth. Another 23% cite economic conditions as the main obstacle.
The survey, which was carried out over December and early January, found that 58% of tech companies expect recruitment of new employees in 2018 to outstrip the previous year, down from 72% 12 months ago. The two biggest hindrances to recruitment are people not knowing about the opportunities within the sector in the South West (42% of respondents), and the region’s lack of sufficient ‘home-grown’ tech talent (23%).
Toby Parkins, chairman of Tech South West, said: “It’s clear that the tech sector is growing, is positive about the next 12 months and remains a key driver for the wider South West economy. But it could be even more successful. We need to do more to encourage people with the skills to come here, and for more school, college and university leavers with the right skills to progress into the sector. There are exciting tech careers available with companies across the region.”
Tech South West, which has more than 500 members, acts as a showcase and champion of what is the fastest growing sector in the region. There are already more than 10,900 technology companies in the South West employing over 126,000 people, according to the Tech Nation 2017 report.
News on the ‘tech trends’ for 2018 predictions from members will be revealed in the next newsletter.