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The majority of UK managers are pessimistic about the UK’s economic prospects for 2017, yet remain resolutely positive about their own business, according to the annual Future Forecast from the Chartered Management Institute.

Almost two thirds of the 1,118 UK managers surveyed for this year’s forecast feel negative about the UK’s economic outlook for the next 12 to 18 months, while almost half (49%) think Brexit will have a negative impact on economic growth in the next 3-5 years.  Looking back over 2016 and the immediate impact of the referendum, only two in five (39%) organisations described themselves as seeing growth, which is the lowest figure since 2012. Similarly, 35% of managers lack confidence in current UK leadership and management’s ability to capitalise on post-Brexit opportunities.

However, despite this negative sentiment around the UK’s wider economic prospects, managers are also seeing opportunity when it comes to their business. Over half (57%) remain positive about their organisation’s own prospects, while just a quarter (25%) feel pessimistic – a figure which has remained steady since last year.  Managers became six per cent more confident (54%) in senior executives’ ability to lead their own organisation too.

Managers overwhelmingly believe that investing in skills is essential to address our post-referendum prospects. Around three quarters (74%) agree that post-Brexit, investing in skills is even more important but a fifth (20%) saying that they did not receive the training and development they needed to perform their job effectively in 2016.

There was also wide support for building skills for the next generation of home-grown leaders and managers through the apprenticeship programme. Only 18% oppose the Apprenticeship Levy that will take effect from April 2017, with 47% fully supportive and the remaining 35% still requiring further guidance or information to understand how the Levy will affect their business.

Looking to wider external influencers, opinion remains uncertain on what impact the Trump presidency will have on the UK’s economic prospects – a situation that reflects the divisive political context and heightened economic uncertainty of 2016. Two in five (40%) think Donald Trump’s election win is going to have an overtly negative impact on the UK economy. Conversely, 31% think that Trump victory will have a positive impact, whilst 29% said they weren’t sure or that it would have no impact at all.

Ann Francke, CEO at the Chartered Management Institute, said: “Although it’s clear that there are significant challenges posed by the UK’s decision to Brexit, as a country we need to move forward and harness pragmatic positivity. UK business will play a vital role in making this a success. In 2017 we have an opportunity to stand together and tackle longstanding issues like the productivity gap, currently 21% lower than other G7 countries.

“We’ll do this by investing in apprenticeships and management skills to create home-grown talent that can become future world-leading management and leadership for UK plc. In this climate of heightened political uncertainty and economic turbulence, the time is now to position Britain as a global leader in responsible capitalism, targeting essential issues like workplace ethics, inclusivity and executive pay to restore trust and transparency and improve productivity. There are uncertain times ahead, but I agree with many of those surveyed that there are opportunities for forward-thinking UK businesses.”

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