These findings, released in collaboration with the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute show the position of businesses for the fourth quarter of 2015.
Liz Cameron OBE, Director and Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:
“As the Scottish economy heads into 2016, we do so on the back of a year that has been very mixed in terms of the fortunes of Scottish businesses. Our latest Economic Indicator points to continued success for many businesses but the shadow of the continued decline in global oil prices now looks to be extending beyond those businesses operating directly in the sector.
“Last year, the Scottish construction sector was one of the primary drivers of growth. This remained the case right up until the end of 2015 and despite the fact that optimism in the sector is less strong than it was a year ago, prospects for employment in the sector remain positive. However this is one of a number of sectors where businesses are facing skills shortages, with nearly two-thirds of businesses who were hiring having experienced difficulties in recruiting. Businesses are telling us that they are looking for education and skills providers to be developing the talents that industry needs. Too often an upturn in business activity is not matched by a commensurate increase in the availability of skilled workers.
“Despite a slowdown in exports, there remain some grounds for optimism for Scotland’s manufacturers, many of which recorded a broadly positive end to 2015. Both revenues and orders remained in positive territory but expectations are for investment to ease in the early part of 2016.
“Results for tourism have been more mixed, where the sector is markedly less optimistic than it was at the turn of 2015, and retail, where lower revenues and profitability may be a consequence of early and prolonged pre-Christmas discounting.
“The challenge for 2016 will be to sustain the economic recovery in Scotland and to support businesses to grow, create jobs and compete. In a year when Scotland goes to the polls to elect a new Scottish Parliament that will acquire more powers than ever over how it raises resources, it will be important to consider the impact of taxes on Scottish businesses. The Scottish Government has announced the doubling of the Business Rates supplement for larger businesses this year, whilst some politicians are also contemplating raising Income Tax rates, once more extensive tax powers are available to them. The question that our political representatives must ask themselves is whether these kind of measures will help businesses to create the kind of jobs that Scotland needs to spread wealth and prosperity and deliver the resources that Government needs to provide essential public services.
“For businesses in all sectors across Scotland, it will be important that Scotland’s new tax powers are used to generate competitive advantage, not to put the recovery at risk
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