Confidence among business leaders in the engineering sector is continuing to erode, according to recent research by the Chartered Management Institute.
The Future Forecast survey highlights a growing concern among senior executives about the year ahead. When asked about business prospects for their company, 29 per cent said they were pessimistic, while 18 per cent said they remain uncertain.
Respondents were also concerned that efforts to kick-start the economy would fail, with nine in 10 firms predicting that consumer spending will fall and 45 per cent stating that increased personal debt due to the rise in energy prices will damage their business.
Despite the outlook, motivation remains high with 23 per cent intending to change jobs next year and five per cent planning to start their own business. Twenty three per cent want to build their personal profile and 24 per cent are committed to developing business contacts or networks.
Building transferable skills and increasing employability has become a priority with 42 per cent in the engineering sector intending to take up a qualification or course in 2009 and 23 per cent resolving to increase their skills.
Contrary to this, firms are predicting a 61 per cent decrease in training and development and 60 per cent believe that gaps among their skilled workforce will have a negative impact on performance.
Jo Causon, director of marketing and corporate affairs at the Chartered Management Institute, said: ‘No one should be surprised at this level of uncertainty. However, the drop in the number of organisations developing their senior teams is disappointing, particularly given fears over staff available with the ability to lead their way out of the downturn. Now, more than ever, is the time to invest wisely because if organisations think that developing competence is expensive, they should also consider the cost of failure and mistakes.’