Shortage of skilled stage damaging SMEs
Nearly three quarters of the nation’s business have considerable plans for expansion in the next two years, according to new research.
But, with this desire to grow comes a problem say Albion Ventures – a lack of skilled employees capable of driving the necessary growth.
Half of small firms with five or more employees are planning to boost their headcount, and finding skilled staff tops the list of concerns named by business owners.
It was seen as less of an issue 12 months ago, but now the manufacturing, medical, construction and healthcare sectors have revealed concerns over the problem.
Regulatory changes, overcoming red tape and accessing new markets were all viewed as more pressing issues than the UK’s decision to leave the EU.
Retailers and construction firms were particularly concerned with Brexit, while those in the manufacturing sector were most optimistic about growth.
A lack of access to finance – a major issue at the height of the financial crisis – continued to fall in the list of concerns, dropping from fifth last year to 13th now, a decline driven by the growing number of alternative finance options that are available.
Businesses revealed split thoughts relating to Brexit, with a third believes it will help them to enter new markets, while 41% expect it to hinder progress.
However viewpoints also vary massively dependent on where in the UK a business is located, how old it is and to the extent to which it has already expanded.
Some 54% of millennial business owners aged under-35 say Brexit will have a negative impact and fear for the long-term futures of their business, including the threat of insolvency.
On a regional basis, those in Wales were most pessimistic over their growth potential, as only 39% of SMEs expect growth. Sole traders meanwhile were least concerned about the impact of Brexit on their growth.
More than a quarter of smaller firms said they would consider private equity or venture capital to aid expansion, with that figure raising to a third of larger businesses.
By Phil Smith
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