NORTH-WEST bosses are finding that demand for appropiately skilled labour is fierce.

Many firms are unable to find suitable staff, it has been revealed in the latest quarterly economic survey for the North-west Chambers of Commerce and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

And there are worries that wages will be forced up.

Mr Sam Jones, chairman of the North West Chambers Economic Committee, said: "Though continued optimism in the North-west is heartening, there are still serious concerns.

"Labour market pressures are intense, particularly for skilled workers. As this feeds through to wage costs, margins will be tough to maintain. For manufacturers trying to export, there are the additional challenges of weak European demand and uncertainty over the prospects for the United States economy.

"The increased emphasis on training by businesses will bring sustained benefit for the region's economy."

Sales growth was reported in both the regional service and manufacturing sectors during the third quarter of the year.

Anita Hunt, Regional Managing Director at the Royal Bank of Scotland, said: "Growth in sales this quarter for North-west firms in encouraging.

"But, while orders, investment and the labour market remain weak, there is no room for complacency."