As 2015 gets under way, Business Argus has been asking businesses and organisations what they would like to see happen this year...

David Davies, managing director, Axiom Manufacturing Services, Newbridge

The UK electronics sector entered 2014 with an optimistic outlook; the UK economy seemed to have turned the corner and the businesses that had weathered storm were streamlined and ready to exploit the predicted re-shoring of manufacturing to the UK. Happily, we and many of our local partners have experienced an upsurge in new and returning business, and our 2015 order book promises more of the same. Re-shoring has been a key component of our growth and we expect this trend to continue. However, the industry’s drive to maintain 2014’s momentum and convert new opportunities into real new business, must be matched with an equal focus on supporting and upskilling our local communities to bridge the widening skills gaps and attract new talent into the industry. It is essential for Wales to ensure it has the workforce available to capitalise on the progress made in 2014.

Ed Gooderham, Green & Co Accountants and Tax Advisors, Cwmbran

We hope to see our clients' businesses continue to thrive, as we help them set and achieve their goals, both business and personal. We have had a great 2014, winning Independent Firm Of The Year, Wales at the British Accountancy Awards and will carry on working hard in 2015 to provide effective tax planning, and innovative and unique services that will help our clients to grow their businesses.

John Newell, Kingston Newell Estate Agents, Newport

I predict 2015 will be another strong year for the housing market in Newport. While recent research data showed house prices in the city to have fallen by 2.9 per cent in 2014, there are a number of external factors that will come into force in 2015 that will make a big difference to the popularity of our city as a place to live and work. Newport BID, Admiral gearing up its presence in the city, Friars Walk and the opening of the Pye Corner train station are all going to have a positive impact on the housing market. You could also possibly argue that because house prices fell, Newport will become more attractive and affordable to house buyers in 2015 especially when you consider the previously mentioned developments for our city? Stamp Duty reforms, an economy now out of recession and pay rises will also give house buyers more confidence to start seriously considering moving whereas before they might have been put off from committing due to uncertainty about these factors.

James Norvill, GD Environmental, Newport

2014 was a very inconsistent, yet positive, year for GD Environmental. Despite some tough market conditions facing the waste management and recycling industry, we were able to expand our operations across Wales through the acquisition of a waste recycling business in West Wales. I’m hoping that 2015 will be slightly more consistent and steady. As the emphasis on the waste management sector diversifies from traditional landfill activities into recycling and energy recovery facilities, I’m optimistic for strong market growth within this sector, with the price of recycled goods already on the rise.

Brian Staples, executive chairman of St Joseph’s Hospital Ltd, Newport

2014 has been a busy and exciting year. We completed the acquisition of the hospital mid-year, and immediately started upon our programme of major investment in the buildings and the equipment to support an expanded and more advanced range of services for our patients. St Joseph’s Hospital has a long history of providing very caring treatment for its patients, which is delivered by a highly-dedicated professional team of staff. Our mission is to build upon that solid foundation to become the leading private hospital in Wales and the South West of England. We are able to deliver that mission because we are an independent private hospital with all of our shareholders involved in the day to day running of the hospital, all sharing a passionate belief in the delivery of excellent treatment for our patients. 2015 will deliver a number of challenges to our business. Our investment projects will not be complete until May 2015, and we have to ensure that we do not allow those works to cause any disruption to our patients. Our experience in the second half of 2014 is of significantly growing patient numbers, which will continue to rise in 2015 as the knowledge and awareness of St Joseph’s Hospital widens in 2015. This is a general election year, and performance of the Welsh NHS is likely to be a hot topic in those elections, giving rise to further uncertainty for very many people already waiting for NHS treatment. St Joseph’s Hospital will do all it can to accommodate patients who therefore choose to pay for treatment rather than wait for protracted periods on a waiting list.

Avril Lewis, managing director of ESTnet, the technology network for Wales

Wales’ technology businesses have had a successful 2014 with many reporting record sales and solid forward order books. The electronic manufacturing businesses offering niche, hi-tech and added value services are increasingly optimistic proving that advanced manufacturing and technology is alive and well in the UK, despite tough market conditions. We expect next year to continue the pattern of more on-shoring work returning to Wales as our businesses remain competitive in a global marketplace. We are seeing an increasing acceleration of new tech start start-ups and expect this to continue in 2015.

Our industry is made up of small businesses, micro companies and SMEs who develop technology for both business application and the consumer online market and this demand will only rise next year. We continue to work with the Welsh Government and our businesses to ensure we have the right environment for technology companies in terms of innovation, skills and infrastructure.

Scott Waddington, Wales’ Commissioner for Employment and Skills

In many ways 2014 has been a very positive year indeed - not only have the opportunities available to our young people been on the rise but so too, it would seem, has the calibre of candidate coming forward to fill them. But while we celebrate these successes, we must also look to the future too. The Welsh Government’s Policy Statement on Skills, launched in January 2014, set out a vision for employment and skills policy in Wales over the next 10 years. The supporting Skills Implementation Plan also sets out the actions needed by all stakeholders to develop a resilient and responsive post-19 skills system which is sustainable against the backdrop of ever scarcer public resources. As such, increasing investment in skills, particularly from employers, will be critical if the good news outlined above is to continue in 2015 and beyond.