More than two-fifths of small business owners in the UK (43 per cent) experience challenges in recruiting the right staff needed for their business in a skills gap, according to the latest Aldermore SME Future Attitudes report, a survey conducted amongst 1,000 SMEs across the UK.
The challenges faced by businesses when recruiting staff are most significant in London and the South East, where 55 per cent of SMEs experience difficulties compared to 36 per cent of companies in the East Midlands. Looking at specific industries, the construction sector faces the greatest challenges as 61 per cent find it difficult to recruit the right people. Of these, nearly two fifths (39 per cent) state that finding staff with relevant experience was the most prominent reason for their difficulties.
The overall situation could worsen once the UK leaves the EU, as 22 per cent of SME owners who think that Brexit will have a negative impact on their business state that attracting and recruiting EU workers could become more difficult.
Not being able to recruit the right talent could endanger the growth plans of the UK’s SMEs on the basis that nearly a fifth (16 per cent) of SMEs who expect their revenues to grow in the next 12 months said they are planning to recruit new staff in order to boost production and grow revenues.
Carl D’Ammassa, Aldermore’s group managing director, Business Finance, says, ‘The SMEs most affected by the skills gap are located in Yorkshire, London and Wales and are interestingly the larger SMEs, employing between 100-249 people. SMEs operating in the construction sector have experienced particular difficulties recruiting the staff they need, and it is a similar story in the agriculture sector.
‘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, Innovation and Skills 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.’