Optimism 'high' among services firms as employers predict an increase in jobs, training and investment

The latest quarterly survey has offered plenty of reasons for optimism, with business activity on the whole better than expected and firms confident of further improvements over the next three months.

Businesses have predicted more jobs will be created in the next quarter, and are committed to investing more in training. Investment plans for the coming year are also positive.

The most recent quarterly CBI Service Sector Survey was conducted between October 26 and November 14.

It took on board the views of 153 respondents from both business and professional services sectors, and consumer services firms like bars and restaurants.

Anna Leach, the CBI's head of economic analysis, said: "There are encouraging signs here, particularly with employers increasing headcount and training expenditure at the fastest pace since November 2007 and investment plans for the year ahead a little better.

"Business and professional services firms are relatively bullish about the coming 12 months and confidence has rebounded sharply, following a surprise pick-up in business."

Firms in professional and business services were 22% more optimistic about the industry outlook than in the middle of 2012. Business values were up 17%, while volumes improved to 16%, the first improvement since May 2011.

Employment rose more than expected - up 8% on expectations - while training investment stood at 12% compared with the forecasted 2%. Both employment and training expenditure are expected to increase by 13% over the next quarter among these firms.

While companies in the business and professional sectors expect to grow in 2013, the consumer services sector remains more guarded.

The latest quarter saw optimism about the general business situation rise by 5% among these organisations. However, business volumes decreased at a similar rate over the last quarter as in the May and August reports.

Headcount rose by 12% and training expenditure by 18% - the quickest three-month increase since November 2007.

Training should rise by 14% in the next three months, while headcount is predicted to go up by 7%.

Copyright Press Association 2012