But 57 per cent are not confident that they will be able to find the high-level skills needed to meet demand and grow.
Businesses are already reporting real problems in recruiting people with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills, with 22 per cent currently struggling to employ graduates with sufficient STEM skills.
Malcolm Hyde, CBI Regional Director South East, said: “While the South East economy continues to make headway we must be on our guard as local growth risks being undermined by a shortage of the higher-level skills businesses need to get on, and the situation is only set to get worse.
“High-growth, high-value sectors, with the most potential are under the most pressure, like science, engineering, digital and manufacturing.
“We must make sure that our education and skills system is truly responsive to the needs of business and that young people receive much better careers advice, if we are to propel the South East economy forward in the years ahead.”
More and better quality apprenticeships are part of the answer and employers are stepping up to the skills challenge.
Firms responding to the survey intend to expand their apprenticeship programme or start one in the next three years (66 per cent) – the best result since the survey began in 2008.
Across England 78 per cent of businesses are not satisfied with the current performance of careers advice in schools and colleges.
Businesses also want to see universities doing more to improve the business relevance of undergraduate courses (54 per cent) and help students become job-ready (49 per cent) if the challenge is to be met.
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