A skills shortage is a very real problem facing many small businesses across the globe. So suggests a recent report, as summarised over on Small Business.co.uk.
The piece starts ‘Small and medium sized enterprises across the world are suffering from a lack of skilled labour, according to the Global Business Monitor report from Bibby Financial Services (BFS)’.
This includes the UK.
The report, which chronicled small business experience across Asia, Europe and North America, says the piece, identifies skill shortages as ‘the number one issue facing businesses in 2017’.
So, what kind of numbers?
‘Almost half (49 per cent) of all respondents say that a skills shortage is the greatest challenge they face, rising to 73 per cent in Germany and 71 per cent in the Czech Republic’, says Small Business.
There’s variation across sectors, with wholesale least affected and construction most, according to the piece.
And BFS Chief Executive for Europe and Asia, Richard Carter, offered some insight into why this might be happening.
‘Many economies rely on the movement of labour to plug skills gaps,’ he’s quoted, ‘but evident shifts towards perfectionist policies in recent times could see the flow of skills dry up.’
This is to the detriment of smaller businesses.
‘It’s clear that this is a key concern for many small and medium sized businesses across the world’, Richard Carter’s quoted.
So, what’s the way forward? At the moment, many businesses are ‘investing in staff training and development’, reports Small Business.
Richard Carter broadly welcomes this, though also cautions it ‘isn’t a silver bullet’.
‘It can often take months or even years to train staff for highly skilled activity’, he says.
‘In the meantime, there’s a very real threat that businesses will have to make do with existing capabilities, and this could impact output in the short term.’
Other issues identified by the survey ‘include rising costs (48 per cent) and government regulation (44 per cent)’, says Small Business.
‘Almost a third (31 per cent) say cashflow is their greatest concern in 2017.’
And Richard Carter is quoted as calling this ‘a heady cocktail of issues arising from global uncertainty, including rising costs and government regulation’.
It’s a pity.
‘Such issues distract SME owners and their teams from growing their businesses and spotting the next expansion opportunity’, he’s quoted.
‘However, there is support available for businesses struggling with the impact of training and recruitment costs and the impact they have on cashflow.’
The piece also quotes one UK business owner struggling in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, and includes more detail on the research.
How closely does it match your small business’s experience?