Commenting on the latest UKCES annual employer skills survey, Gordon Millward, regional chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said:
“The UKCES report shows small firms continue to struggle to find staff with the skills they need. The problem appears particularly acute in sectors like manufacturing and construction.
“The report also makes it clear that smaller businesses are the hardest hit by the skills gap. They are more likely to suffer significant impacts as a result of the shortfall. This includes: increased workload for staff, higher operating costs, and loss of business to competitors.
“The report demonstrates that smaller businesses are playing their part in upskilling the UK’s workforce, with small firms investing three and a half times more money per head on training their staff compared to larger businesses. However, in light of major changes to the way business support is delivered in England, we need to make sure these businesses continue to get the support necessary to train the people they need. One important element of this is making sure smaller firms are able to benefit from funds generated by the apprenticeship levy, even if they fall below the size requiring them to contribute.
“Finally, smaller businesses should pay attention to the UKCES recommendation for greater investment in management and leadership skills. This has been an area where the UK has traditionally trailed behind our international competitors. By increasing investment in leadership and management training small firms can improve business productivity and competitiveness”