In the first Economic Trends survey of 2023, Cork Chamber asked members about their experience of the most recent business quarter, Q1 2023 (January, February, March) along with the ongoing business impact of high energy costs and skills gaps. This Economic Trends Q1 2023 captures a snapshot of business experiences and of the overall operating landscape at the start of 2023 in a period which saw ongoing challenges as energy costs and uncertainty in the global economy remained high.
Ongoing impact of high energy costs and skills availability
Persistently high energy costs have triggered a reduction in profitability for 73% of businesses surveyed, compared to 29% in Q1 2022. Fortunately, businesses continue to take proactive steps to cushion the blow of these impacts and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions with 21% of companies increasing investment in energy efficiency measures and 8% investing in renewable energy.
Skills gaps exist across the board for all businesses, but with sustainability (26%) and management development (26%) needs most required to bridge the gap as businesses continue to embed sustainability into all activities.
Almost 40% of companies are using flexible working arrangements to combat skills gaps, signalling that flexible working is more attractive to the workforce.
Confidence in the Irish economy has risen again to 85% up from 70% last quarter, continuing the trend reversal of falling confidence in the first three quarters of 2022.
Hiring continued to be strong through this quarter with 42% of businesses increasing their headcount and only 10% cut their numbers, and 48% of businesses said their staffing stayed the same.
Businesses continue to plan to increase employee numbers, with 58% expecting to increase their headcount (53% in Q4 2022). However, specialist skills shortages are reported as the ongoing top barrier to filling vacancies (51%), a trend that was consistent across 2022,
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View more stats and results from our latest Economic Trends, which capture a snapshot of business experiences and of the overall operating landscape at the close of Q1 2023.