Investing in new personnel has become a top priority for UK businesses, according to a recent survey conducted by Time Finance. The alternative finance provider found that one in three firms are planning to expand their workforce, with 90% to start the recruitment process within the next 6 months.
The findings bring a welcomed degree of optimism amidst the ongoing challenges to the UK’s labour market, with unemployment rates anticipated to rise as the Government’s furlough scheme comes to an end.
Ed Rimmer, Chief Executive Officer at Time Finance, commented: “The Office of National Statistics recently revealed that a staggering 1.9 million people were still on Furlough at the end of June and with as many as one million workers expected to be on the scheme when it ended, there is a real concern that we could now be faced with a spike in unemployment.
“There are, however, some clear indicators of business confidence that paint a much more optimistic picture. A considerable number of businesses are focusing their time and resources on the future and with a third of businesses planning to invest in new personnel, the coming months will bring an invaluable lifeline to those without work.
“It is encouraging that our survey mirrors new figures from the ONS that have shown that UK job vacancies have reached a 20-year high of 1.1 million. To me this suggests that the real challenge won’t be unemployment, but how businesses will compete to recruit the available workforce.
“Our survey gives a really powerful barometer for the shift in business confidence over the last few months. In our previous survey in July this year, businesses’ plans for borrowing had a greater emphasis on stabilising cashflow and in just a few months this has shifted towards investment for growth. Respondents to our recent survey described their current outlook as optimistic despite much of the Government’s financial support drawing to a close, and to me this represents an important shift away from survival mode.”
Alongside personnel, business respondents also cited marketing (30%) and new products and services (27%) as well as operational and technological advancements (21%) as priorities for immediate investment.
Ed added: “Although recruiting new staff has become a top priority for businesses, interestingly many also have their eyes on additional means of growth, giving us a more detailed picture of business’ expansion strategies. Financial solutions therefore need to respond to these nuances. Finance should never attempt to provide a one-size-fits-all approach and our survey shows us that now, more than ever, businesses need a broad range of flexible finance solutions that can be tailored to their investment plans.
“There are, of course, going to be some challenges along the way. Investment in new personnel will be no mean feat when the UK is also facing a stark shortfall in the workforce, particularly in haulage, retail and many construction trades. A lack of available talent is a huge obstacle the UK faces and I would caution that alongside planned investments must come investments in training to ensure we up-skill at the rate UK businesses require.”
Time Finance offers a range of alternative finance solutions, including Asset Finance, Invoice Finance, Loans and Vehicle Finance, providing a suite of complementary solutions should businesses require a multi-product approach through Asset Based Lending. In June this year, Time Finance also became an accredited lender under the Government’s Recovery Loan Scheme via the British Business Bank.