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Managers confident on economy, but reluctant to invest in training

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According to the Institute of Management’s latest Quarterly Management Trends survey, business confidence among UK managers has risen again over the least few months, flying in the face of predictions of recession. The Business Confidence Indicator is the percentage who express confidence in the econmomy for the coming year minus the number who don’t, and currently the remaining total comes out high, in contrast with three months ago.
In the latest poll, 57 per cent are optimistic, with only 16 per cent taking the opposite view, producing 41 per cent net who are now expecting the UK economy to pick up over the coming 12 months.

More worryingly, managers are not quite so willing to put their organisations’ money where there sunny optimisim is: many are holding back from investment in training, marketing, ICT and research and development. However, they do anticipate a rise in pay settlements. Most called for no change in interest rates, agreeing with the Bank of England’s current policy.

Whether all this optimism about the economy is compatible with a refusal to invest is a moot point.

Mary Chapman, director general of the Institute of Management, said: “This upsurge in confidence is very welcome, and shows a marked reluctance on the part of managers to allow themselves to be talked into a recession. However, the caution on investment – particularly in training and development and plant and machinery – could have a troubling knock-on effect in the future if organisations hold back too much in these important areas.”

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