Skills gap slowing SMEs down

Skills gap slowing SMEs down

The growth prospects of small businesses are being hindered by a shortage of skilled staff, according to a new study.

Research revealed in the Albion Ventures Growth Report 2013 says that just over one in three small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were experiencing problems because of an apparent skills gap.

The report focused on the opportunities and difficulties 450 SMEs were being faced with and revealed that the largest gap in the SME skillset was in sales – with 16 per cent of respondents citing this as an issue.

Other area lacking in expertise included IT – which 12 per cent cited as a problem – and financial management, which affected ten per cent. 

Greater London and the West Midlands were the areas where the biggest gaps were found, with companies there apparently facing a challenge to hire the correct employees as there is more competition for their services.

However, this need not be an issue if businesses are willing to hire homeworkers from further afield. By making use of teleconferencing services, firms can keep in regular touch with staff who are not based in the office.

The study also found that business owners who are optimistic about their future prospects have a different perception of skill gaps compared to those who are less enthusiastic. 

According to the research, one in five positive leaders spoke about a lack of capable sales employees on the market compared with just four per cent of those who were more pessimistic. This finding seems to suggest that the former are perhaps more pro-active in expanding their services or products out to a wider audience. 

Another difference of opinion between optimists and pessimists was that nearly double the amount of those with a negative outlook (21 per cent) highlighted cash management as their largest skills gap compared with those who were feeling more positive (11 per cent).