Most businesses expected business conditions to improve over the next six month (49%), while slightly fewer (47%) expected conditions to stay the same.
Significantly, 68% of respondents expected their own business to grow in the next six months. This is a major increase on the same time a year ago – in November 2015 the response to the same question was 57%.
“These results are most encouraging, especially with the uncertainty overseas,” says Kim Campbell, CEO, EMA.
The majority of respondents said they had increased the number of employees in 2016, which would correlate with the positive outlook respondents have of their own business.
However, on the downside, employers are still struggling to recruit, with 53% saying it is difficult or very difficult to attract suitable candidates for positions in general. While 72% saying it is difficult to recruit for skilled positions.
Specifically, professionals, technicians and managers were the roles employers had the most difficulty recruiting. With machinery operators and labourers also featuring strongly as a growing area of skills shortage.
This was backed up by the majority of respondents (65%) saying there is currently, or there soon will be, a skills shortage in their sector.
Not surprisingly, one of the key themes that came out of the survey was looking for ways to resolve this. In particular, employers are looking at how they upskill current staff, but are also looking to use immigrants to fill their staff shortage along with other mechanisms such as apprenticeships.
“These results reinforce the need for employers to take good care of the staff they have,” says Mr Campbell.
The survey was conducted in mid-November and went to EMA members. Respondents were from a cross-section of businesses across the EMA region, from Taupo to Kaitaia.
Read the report here.