Training being offered to UK firms through their supply chains is at a worryingly low level that’s threatening jobs, pay and productivity, according to the Federation of Small Businesses .
FSB’s new research found only one in ten small suppliers surveyed reported having been given any skills or workforce development at all by those they supply to, despite a growing skills shortage.
Two thirds of those responding to the survey who had been offered and accepted skills and workforce development support from those they supply to said it has improved the skills, knowledge and expertise in their business.
FSB Chairman Mike Cherry voiced small business concerns about the worsening skills gap and the need for big businesses to do more to help smaller suppliers access training opportunities. He said: “These findings show that there is a clear skills gap emerging between big and small firms that is endangering jobs, growth and productivity. It is essential that large companies recognise the mutual benefits of supporting their small suppliers to address skills shortages by sharing their knowledge and expertise. This is a win-win with the benefits flowing back up the supply chain.
“Unless more is done to encourage skills sharing within supply chains, UK companies of all sizes will fall behind their global competitors.”
“With many small businesses already struggling to access the right talent, ensuring that training and skills development occurs throughout supply chains is critical. The Government can kick-start this development by asking large businesses paying the apprenticeship levy to prioritise sharing their funds with small firms through voucher transfers. This support will be invaluable to small suppliers and will allow them to invest in training that they otherwise would not have been able to do.”
Coinciding with the new research, Mr Cherry announced further research focused on how the UK could make better use of supply chains to boost UK productivity. He added: “I’m happy to announce FSB will be following up this research with more detailed work on how Government can work to ensure big business is working with its supply chains to drive productivity, pay and growth in the UK economy.
“Good, functioning supply chains are vital to creating jobs, promoting innovation, enhancing exporting, increasing productivity and fostering sustainable growth.”