Lack of skilled employees and regulation are the top biggest challenges of small IT-led businesses in New Zealand.\nBoth of these issues were cited by 17 per cent of respondents in the latest ANZ Bank\u2019s quarterly Business Micro Scope Survey of the sector. ANZ says 250 small firms across New Zealand with up to 20 staff participated in the survey.\nThe survey finds services (more than 30 per cent) leapfrogged construction ( more than 27 per cent) as the most upbeat sector, followed by retail ( more than 25 per cent).\nIT is part of the services category, in which participants said is particularly affected by the difficulties around sourcing skilled staff.\nMigration and training will be important in ensuring the skills are available to help them take their business forward. Fred Ohlsson, ANZ Bank\nThe survey finds hiring intentions among small businesses nudged upwards to a new record high, auguring well for employment as the economy continues to expand.\nWith this, many business owners have now turned their attention to finding staff with the right skills to take their business forward.\n\u201cSmall firms have made a clear statement that they\u2019re still prepared to take on staff and invest amid challenges such as a high dollar,\u201d says Fred Ohlsson, ANZ Bank managing director, retail and business banking.\n"Small firms account for 90 per cent of Kiwi businesses and provide jobs for nearly one in three New Zealanders. So when owners tell us they\u2019re keen to take on more staff that\u2019s a shot in the arm for employment nationally. Migration and training will be important in ensuring the skills are available to help them take their business forward.\u201d\nThe survey finds small business confidence reached record highs in Canterbury, the wider South Island and Wellington. Nationally, sentiment fell back slightly in June from the previous quarter\u2019s record levels, but remains well above the historical average.\nThe survey finds hiring intentions are now at their strongest since comparable data was first collected in 1999, with a net of more than 20 per cent of firms planning to take on staff in the coming year.\nCanterbury (up 9 points to more than 33 per cent) took the biggest leap forward in confidence, making it the most confident region, alongside the rest of the South Island (up 2 points to more than 33 per cent), followed by Wellington (up 1 point to more than 30 per cent). The survey says these three regions hit new record highs in the June quarter.\nSend news tips and comments to email@example.com\nFollow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap\nFollow CIO New Zealand on Twitter:@cio_nz\nSign up for CIO newsletters for regular updates on CIO news, views and events.\nJoin us on Facebook.