Ballarat business owners hopeful of a good 2014

BALLARAT businesses are cautiously optimistic about the year ahead, even with the potential for skilled labour shortages. 

After what could be described as a tough 2013, businesses are hopeful the new year will bring better business conditions. 

A survey by credit information bureau Dun and Bradstreet found 68 per cent of businesses nationwide were more optimistic about the new year in comparison to 2013.

Australian Industry Group regional manager Kay Macaulay said the results were in line with a trend she had seen in the Ballarat area.

“I think I would probably say they are cautiously optimistic,” she said. 

“Prior to Christmas, I spoke to a number of members who indicated they had a lot of quotes out there and if the quotes came to fruition then they would have a good year.”

However, a skilled labour shortage still threatens to impact the region and is one of the biggest problems Ballarat may face into the future, according to Ms Macaulay. 

“We are likely to have problems with skilled labour in the future, mainly because of some of the closures and redundancies we have had in the last 12 to 18 months,” she said. 

“I think we will suffer as a result of people leaving the region when they have lost their jobs.

“When things do pick up and we go looking for those skills, they might not be there.” 

The survey also found 18 per cent of businesses were planning to access new finance in the first quarter of 2014 in the hope of expanding their operations.

Ms Macaulay also highlighted the high Australian dollar as another potential problem the region might face, especially with businesses that export goods overseas. 

“We haven’t had any large-scale redundancies in quite some time so that sort of indicates companies are striving to hang onto their staff,” she said. 

“I think a lot of our members are having extended leave over Christmas and that hasn’t really happened over the past few years.”

matthew.dixon@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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