SMEs hampered by UK skills shortage


The growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be hampered by the UK’s “critical” skills shortage.



That is according to the annual report published jointly by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and education group Pearson, which found that a lack of talent is preventing Britain’s businesses from getting ahead of their European competitors.


Skills shortages are especially dire in the engineering, computing and science sectors, the report showed, with 39 per cent of companies saying they are struggling to fill these roles. 


What’s more, the long term outlook is also bleak and of the 294 firms questioned in the report, some 41 per cent believe the skills shortage will last for at least three years.


SMEs say a large part of the problem lies in the fact that school leavers lack the right work experience. Some 54 per cent say youngsters don’t know how to self-manage, while 41 per cent believe ex-students lack problem-solving skills and 35 per cent think young people don’t have the right attitude to work.


However, the CBI fears that unless more is done to get workers up to scratch, the long-term growth of SMEs will be affected. As a result, the organisation is calling on the government to invest more in the funding of on-the-job development programmes.


CBI director general John Cridland said: “Firms are already investing in training, but they cannot do it on their own. We want to see the skills budget protected as far as possible, while focusing on business needs. That means routing funding more directly to firms.”


According to Mr Cridland, chancellor George Osborne is walking a fine line trying to ensure wider savings for the UK economy, but that “there are few better ways of underpinning long term growth than by investing in skills”. 


And while some SMEs are making the effort to offer training schemes to apprentice and unskilled workers, the report states that they can’t do it alone.


Posted by the Secret Businessman