BUSINESS confidence in the Albury region is on the up, but skills shortages are still causing problems.
The belief of even better times ahead was revealed in a survey released yesterday.
More than 120 businesses from the Murray and Riverina regions took part in the latest Business Conditions Survey, conducted by the NSW Business Chamber, with 909 taking part statewide.
Murray-Riverina resp- ondents were more positive than other areas about the performance of the economy, with 28 per cent saying the economy had improved in the past three years, while 84 per cent believed it would be the same or even better in the current quarter.
Murray-Riverina NSW Business Chamber regional manager Ben Foley said this showed encouraging signs for the rest of the year.
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Mr Foley said his gut feeling in the past three months was the results would be more favourable and businesses happier with the economy.
“But, in saying that, it’s not a rose-lined picket fence out there,” he said.
“It’s not easy doing bus- iness at the moment and there are those struggling with rising cost pressures.
“But, on the whole, there is a greater level of feedback from businesses saying things are on the improve.”
Skills shortages continued to hold back some businesses.
These were from a range of professions and trades and included maintenance workers, medical specialists, music teachers and project managers.
“But sales was the big one — we had 13 different responses just for sales staff,” Mr Foley said.
“And then you’ve got your electricians and other tradies.”
Regional difficulties in getting access to suitably qualified staff contrasted to the experience of businesses in metropolitan Sydney.
The June quarter result of 20 per cent was down from 24.7 per cent in March, but more than a third of businesses in the Murray-Riverina region struggled to find staff.
Mr Foley said both federal and state governments had withdrawn funding for programs designed to get youth into employment.
“We know skills shortages have been one of the major factors impacting businesses across the region for a long time,” he said.
“We have some concerns about who will take up that role from January 1 when that funding stops.
“We’ll be working with politicians throughout the region to make sure they’re aware we’ve got the concern.”