Skilled staff shortages continue to slow small business growth

Half of small business owners are reportedly planning to enhance their headcount in the coming year, but many are facing a shortage of skilled individuals to pick from.

According to new research from Albion Ventures, those is London and the South East are going to be hardest hit by the skills gap.

It is claimed that finding staff with the necessary abilities is the biggest challenge being faced by the UK’s small businesses today.

More than 1,000 small firms were questioned as part of the annual Albion Growth Report and 50% of those with more than five employees were planning to recruit in the next two years.

But finding staff ranks ahead of regulation and red tape when it comes to perceived obstacles to growth. Even political uncertainty and Brexit were not as much of a concern.

Small firms in London will be hit hardest, while those in the South East and North West will also not get away lightly.

Major issues can when trying to source staff with marketing skills – named by 26% of those questioned – as well as those with experience of new technology and business planning, named by 21% and 17% of those questioned respectively.

Recruiting for operations, financial management, research and development and HR was somewhat easier, as these areas were only identified as issues by between 6% and 10% of those surveyed.

An alternative for small businesses is to promote and train from within, although it can be a costly and time consuming process.

Despite this, it can be a better use of resources than a recruitment campaign, especially as most businesses will already be aware of where their employee’s skill sets are.

Failing to find skilled staff is slowing growth and can have more far-flung consequences if the issue is not addressed.

Should a business suffer from a reversal of fortunes, then undertaking an independent business review is recommended to help develop a strategy for a more secure financial future.

This should also help to reduce the likelihood of financial issues or the need for recovery methods further down the line, although it not guaranteed.

By Phil Smith

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