Two thirds of Lancashire firms planning recruitment

More than two thirds (68 per cent) of Lancashire business owners are expecting to create new jobs in 2014, according to a survey conducted by Boost Business Lancashire.

The Lancashire Growth Forecast 2014 found that two fifths (41 per cent) were expecting growth of more than 15 per cent in 2014.

Giving an indication of strategic priorities and investment plans, 70 per cent of business owners said improving their sales and marketing was the biggest opportunity to grow their business.

However, business owners also identified a number of growth challenges with almost half (47 per cent) of those surveyed saying a shortage of skills among the existing workforce would be a potential barrier to growth in the next 12-months.

Boost Business Lancashire is the county’s £7.2m business growth hub. It is the county’s largest ever business support service aimed at growth-hungry businesses and aims to grow the Lancashire’s economy by £20m, create at least 1,200 new jobs and safeguard 700 more by 2015.

Andy Walker, head of business growth and innovation at Lancashire County Council, said: “It’s clear from these results, and from the businesses we are talking to on daily basis, that a growing number of the county’s business owners are optimistic about growth in 2014. The challenge now is how they realise these growth aspirations, particularly in light of potential skills, funding and leadership issues.

“We urge growth-hungry Lancashire businesses to look at how they can potentially address these issues through the array of business support programmes available in the county through Boost Business Lancashire, many of which are available free of charge.” Boost Business Lancashire is being delivered through a partnership between Lancashire County Council, Community & Business Partners, Lancaster University, Regenerate Pennine Lancashire, University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and Winning Pitch. £3.6m of funding has been provided by ERDF.