Lack of skills and Brexit top list of worries facing businesses in 2019

Twice as many people living in Weston are in debt compared with the UK average

Twice as many people living in Weston are in debt compared with the UK average - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A shortage of skills and digital infrastructure in the district top the list of concerns business have according to a new survey.

More than half of the 92 respondents to Somerset Chamber of Commerce’s annual membership survey revealed issues around education and skills (56 per cent) and digital infrastructure (52 per cent) were a major concern for Somerset business, even above Brexit (42 per cent) which ranked third in the list of firms’ concerns.

In response, Somerset Chamber has said they will put plans in place to address tackle these issues.

These include working with broadband providers to get the best possible coverage for Somerset businesses, as well as pushing for the introduction of 5G across the county.

The chamber will also continue supporting the Somerset Education Business Partnership, developed with Somerset County Council.

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The partnership, which launched in October, was created to build stronger connections between businesses, schools, colleges, and training providers across the county.

Chief executive of Somerset Chamber of Commerce, Stephen Henagulph, said: “While there is considerable debate around Brexit, the results of the Somerset Chamber membership survey show that the skills shortages and broadband issues faced by the county’s businesses continue to be a significant concern.

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“As a result, we will be prioritising these issues and ensuring they are featured in our communication and lobbying activity at a local, regional and national level.

“The chamber will continue to amplify our members’ challenges and concerns, ensuring the relevant organisations and government departments hear loud and clear what our members are saying.

“I am grateful to all the members who took the time to provide feedback through our annual survey; your input is enormously valuable and helps to steer our focus for the coming year.

“We look forward to continuing to support and work with chamber members and patrons in 2019 in order to make progress on these issues, fixing the fundamentals so that our county’s businesses have the best possible chance of success and growth.”

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