Australian SMEs are headed for a series of missed opportunities in the second half of 2012 due to low confidence and ongoing cost-containment.
This approach is short-sighted given the significant but as yet little talked about expectation that the minerals boom will continue to permeate through other sectors of the national economy and increase demand.
This is one of the key findings in the fourth annual Business & Population Monitor, released earlier this month by Sefiani client, PKF Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers, which looks at the impact of Australian demographic changes on business.
This year’s Monitor reveals that, despite Australia’s strong economic performance compared to most other developed economies, SMEs are essentially, ‘once bitten, twice shy’, as concerns of global economic instability have stifled much-needed investment and business owners remain risk averse. In fact, SME confidence is still only just above the lows recorded at the height of the GFC .
However, according to Matt Field, PKF’s National Director, Enterprise Advisers, as the benefits of the minerals boom gradually spread to other sectors of the economy a steady stream of demand will return to a number of industry sectors. SMEs that fail to increase investment in time will miss out on fully capitalising on the expanded opportunities.
Furthermore, last year’s Monitor revealed that Australia’s population growth was shifting down a gear at a time when the need for workers was accelerating. These predictions have proven accurate, and will be especially poignant in the latter half of 2012 when the economy gains pace.
Since the last Monitor, annual employment growth has slowed significantly in most States and Territories, in some cases dropping into a negative position.
According to this year’s report, SMEs will initially respond to increased demands by working their existing employees longer before taking on additional staff. Unfortunately, the combination of capacity pressures, both in under-investment and a lack of available skilled labour, means steps towards recovery could be significantly hampered.
Sefiani secured significant media coverage for the report across TV, radio, print and online media reaching national, metropolitan and regional audiences.