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Year of growth stokes service sector optimism

THE ECONOMIC UPSWING has seen companies hire more employees than at any point since 1998, the CBI has said.

A survey conducted by the confederation of 151 British businesses found consumer and professional service companies are increasingly optimistic about the economic situation.

However, finding staff with the right skills is proving a challenge, it found, something that could impact on growth in the coming year.

Accountancy and legal practices are experiencing business levels “above normal” for the first time since 2007.

Firms in the services sectors are taking on staff and increasing spending on training and technology.

Consumer services – including hotels, bars, restaurants, travel and leisure businesses – have seen levels of business that were “comfortably above normal”.

Katja Hall (pictured), the CBI’s deputy director general, said: “With a full year of growth under their belts, service sector firms are more upbeat than they have been for a long time.

“The recovery continues to strengthen with both consumer and business-facing firms taking on more staff and investing in training and IT.

“But a rising number of firms, particularly in business and professional services are having problems finding the right staff. This survey identifies a skills gap as a growing constraint on business expansion in the sector over the year ahead.”

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