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Tech firms upbeat about jobs creation in next 6 months

Confidence belies general gloom about economy, while concerns about skills shortages remain

Technology companies are surprisingly positive about their expansion opportunities in the near future, despite wider economic concerns, a survey has found.

The first quarterly State of the Sector survey, carried out by technology trade association Intellect, showed that 67 percent of members plan to expand their businesses in the next six months, with 43 percent revealing that they were "very likely" to recruit new staff. A further 40 percent said it was "possible' that they would hire new people.

However, a lack of IT skills could hinder these growth plans, Intellect warned.

"One area where our members continue to express concern is around skills shortages, both in the short- and long-term, and this will have an impact on the ability of companies to turn their ambitions into real jobs," said Antony Walker, Intellect's deputy director general.

According to the survey, the recruitment plans of tech firms are positive in spite of 40 percent saying that their confidence in the state of the economy had declined over the past six months, while 52 percent said that their confidence level had stayed the same. Just 22 percent believed the economy would improve in a year's time.

Furthermore, 60 percent of respondents said that they had increased business investment over the past six months, with just over half (51 percent) saying that their business prospects had improved in the same period. Thirty-four percent said that their business prospects had been static.

Walker said: "Despite the difficult economy it appears that companies have invested during this year and are now looking to maximise that investment.

"However, if the storm clouds gather again across the wider economy, these gains could be quickly lost."

Meanwhile, although the tech industry supported Chancellor George Osborne's plans to make the UK the "technology centre of Europe", with 81 percent believing the country has the potential to achieve this goal, respondents were not convinced that the government really understands the UK tech sector.

The survey showed that none of the respondents believed that the government understood the tech industry 'very well', while 66 percent said that the UK tech industry was "not very well" understood by government.

"There is clearly a major challenge ahead for the chancellor to deliver confidence-boosting measures in his autumn statement, and we will be continuing to press him to put technology firmly at the centre of the government's growth strategy," said Walker.

Intellect surveyed senior figures at 86 of its member companies online in July 2012. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of the respondents employed 250 or fewer people.


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