Skills shortages are starting to bite for small businesses, new research has revealed. 1000 SMEs were surveyed to compile the latest Aldemore Future Attitudes report and more than half of the respondents (55%) saying they have real trouble in finding the necessary skilled personnel.
And the south east of England is feeling the shortage particularly sharply. “The skills gap is more severe amongst larger SMEs, employing between 100-249 people,” said Carl D’Ammassa, Aldermore’s Group Managing Director, Business Finance. “This could explain why the issue is more prominent in London as the region has a higher concentration of larger SMEs than other areas in the UK,”
In terms of sectors, construction is facing the biggest shortfall in skilled workers, with 61 per cent of respondents finding it difficult to recruit the right people.
D’Ammassa said: “One area that firms can focus on to close the skills gap is by supporting training and development for their existing staff. In particular, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has previously highlighted a shortage of digital skills as a challenge for many businesses and this is an area that we would urge the Government to continue to focus on.”
‘Government must continue skills investment’
Meanwhile, Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the BCC has said the government must continue its focus on skills provision. “Manufacturers, particularly those that export, continue to report positive indicators. However, while some firms will be benefitting from the depreciation in the value of the pound, there is currently little evidence that it is providing a material boost to overall export growth.
“The UK’s manufacturing base continues to struggle with long-term structural issues, with businesses continuing to report considerable recruitment difficulties. The government must work to address the skills gap, while also ensuring that businesses have access to the workers they need from overseas.”