The UK’s continuing skills gap is the most glaring concern for small businesses, a new survey has revealed. Albion Ventures, a private equity house, has published its fourth Albion Growth Report this week, and it shows that finding skilled staff is the biggest concern for UK SMEs.
Half of small businesses that took part in the research said they were planning to grow their headcount over the next two years, but finding skilled staff tops the list of challenges the face, up from third place in 2015.
Albion says the problem is especially acute for companies in the manufacturing, construction, medical and healthcare sectors.
In sixth place, the decision to leave the EU ranks below perennial challenges such as red tape, regulatory change and the difficulty of accessing new markets. Lack of access to finance – one of the major problems voiced by SMEs during the recession – has fallen to 13th place from fifth last year.
‘Most SMEs expect to grow’
Encouragingly, however, a sizable proportion of SMEs expect to grow in the coming years, with 73% of those surveyed have saying they expected to grow.
Patrick Reeve, Managing Partner at Albion Ventures, said: “Against a backdrop of profound change, one element that has remained reassuringly unchanged is the optimism underlying the UK’s small businesses. Firms are looking to grow their headcount and productivity is on the increase. The biggest barrier to growth, finding skilled staff, is generated by success rather than failure.
“The downside is that the economy is coming under capacity constraints at a time of considerable political uncertainty. While many of the pressures on growth we have seen in recent years have eased, the skills that enable us to compete are in short supply.”