Overcoming a skills shortage – the issues faced by businesses

With a population quickly approaching retirement age and a perceived lack of workers to replace them, there are concerns that a skills shortage could quickly envelop Britain.


This is bad news for many businesses as it will increase competition for the very best and smaller businesses could lose out as a result.


Any kind of financial loss can be damaging to a company, but more so to those who have fewer staff as they are also likely to have smaller financial margins.


In these situations, even small amounts can make a big difference to the cash flow, and can leave the companies on the brink of administration in the very early days.


The main concerns relate to STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths – which are the sectors seen to drive the economy.


If there are a lack of appropriate staff to fulfill job roles then businesses could face an uncertain future as they will simply struggle to operate and business restructuring may be necessary.


While these issues can be highlighted a long time in advance, difficulties can remain in resolving them, especially if people with the necessary skills are not available.


Not only does an inability to hire staff prevent progress, it also places far greater pressures on those who are already working there.


This increases workplace stress and has a number of other negative connotations – including lower productivity.


As a result, sales could not be at the desired levels and this will also impact on the bottom line in terms of company finances.


Training up staff within a company is one such way to solve a skills issue, but this can be time-consuming although it is likely to be a cheaper alternative than trying to hire in from elsewhere.


Retaining highly-skilled staff is also incredibly difficult for smaller companies, especially if market leaders or multi-national companies come calling.


These types of company are able to offer significant perks and other bonuses, with which smaller companies can just not compete.


By Phil Smith


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