A survey published today by the Chartered Management Institute reveals that managers in the engineering sector believe 2007 will be a successful year for business. Their optimism comes despite an increase in the proportion of business leaders predicting rising business costs.

The survey shows that 85 per cent of senior executives in the engineering sector are confident about the year ahead. Asked specifically about business prospects for their organisation over the next twelve months, nearly half gave an upbeat forecast. Forty five per cent also claimed they are very optimistic.

Looking at the likely economic performance of the UK, managers in the sector are predicting that employment will remain at current levels, with 49 per cent suggesting there will be no significant change. However, across the UK, respondents in Wales expressed confidence that new jobs will be created, with 35 per cent indicating the belief that job opportunities will increase during the next 12 months.

The proportion of managers believing that UK output (GDP) will increase has also risen since this time, last year. In December 2005, only 16 per cent thought UK productivity would improve, compared to 24 per cent this year. Within the engineering sector the figure is 17 per cent. Across a range of industries in the UK, respondents in the IT and retail sectors are most confident, with 33 and 27 per cent respectively expecting improved levels of performance and productivity in 2007.

However, the survey reveals some concerns over rising business costs, with 49 per cent of those questioned within the sector predicting further increases in business taxation. They also fear increasing inflation and interest rates.

When the question was asked 70 per cent suggested inflation would rise and 79 per cent said rising interest rates will affect business performance.

Respondents were also asked about personal predictions for the year ahead and many sounded warnings for their employer. One quarter said they planned to change jobs in the next twelve months – double the national labour turnover figure for 2006 (12 per cent) reported in the National Management Salary Survey.

However, in view of the recently published Leitch Review on Skills, which recognised a skills shortage across all areas of the UK, it is encouraging to note that 43 per cent of respondents in the engineering sector intend to undertake training courses and further education during the New Year. Recognising the need for greater international collaboration, 15 per cent also stated their intention to learn a new language.

Jo Causon, director, marketing and corporate affairs at the Chartered Management Institute, said: ‘In the run up to Christmas many organisations, rightly, focus their attention on the achievements of the previous twelve months, but when the past year has been one littered with concerns about skills shortages and the knock-on impact on UK performance and productivity, it is encouraging to see such high levels of confidence about the year ahead.

‘Of course, there are clear warning signs to employers that their staff do not want to sit still and is vital that this message is understood if UK organisations are to recruit, retain and benefit from the best talent available.’