Firms waiting for sales increase before hiring new staff
More than half Northern Ireland businesses are waiting for sales to increase before they start hiring new workers, according to a survey today.
More than half (54%) of 50 Northern Ireland firms questioned for the Barclays Employers' Survey said they would increase wages this year, an increase from 37% last year.
Northern Ireland businesses were more likely to say that sales increases led to job creation, rather than the other way around.
Adrian Doran, Barclays' head of corporate banking in Northern Ireland, said: "The vast majority of businesses in Northern Ireland feel that sales increases lead to job creation, suggesting that they would look to see improving sales before they take the plunge and invest in new staff.
"This could perhaps be explained by the fact that the average company size in Northern Ireland is relatively small, compared to the rest of the UK, and possibly without the resources or confidence to invest upfront in staff."
Around 40% of Northern Ireland companies expressed fears about the potential of the UK leaving the EU and the weakening euro, which hit a seven-year low against the pound last week.
Mr Doran said: "Clearly with the Republic and the wider euro area being such an important market for Northern Ireland exporters, it's no surprise that such a large proportion of Northern Ireland companies are concerned about Europe.
"The UK general election and the possibility of an EU referendum is a major concern for our local exporters."
Around 16% of firms in Northern Ireland reported skills shortages, but 48% of those businesses said they lacked workers in middle management roles, the highest of all UK regions. Nearly all added that they were providing training to reduce skills shortages.