HR · 8 May 2018

Over a quarter of SMEs struggle to find skilled workers

Brexit recruitment
UK SMEs are struggling to hire skilled workers according to new research.

Finding skilled workers and retaining staff were some of the biggest challenges tackled by SMEs in the first quarter of 2018 according to new research.

Twenty-seven per cent of UK SMEs are struggling to hire skilled workers according to research from Bibby Financial Services’.

Many businesses had to increase wages in order to retain skilled workers and even offer high salaries when recruiting due to the increased competition.

Commenting on this, head of recruitment finance at Bibby Financial Services, Sue Farmer said: The figures speak for themselves. Low unemployment and increased competition have created an environment where SMEs are struggling to hire the skilled workers they so desperately need.

Construction was the sector which faced the biggest problems with 37 per cent of businesses in this sector citing this issue.

Despite the lack of skilled applicants, two-fifths of businesses are preparing to invest in training and development for current staff.

“What’s encouraging to see is that business owners are thinking on their feet and exploring other ways to tackle this ongoing challenge,” adds Farmer.

In addition, a quarter said they want to bring in new talent over the next three months.

SME confidence has also grown, with 50 per cent of businesses expecting sales to increase over the next quarter.

Also, 39 per cent of SMEs accounted growth in revenue within the first quarter of 2018.

However, future pressures will still challenge the SME community, with 14 per cent freezing recruitment procedures due to recent compulsory workplace pension contributions increases.

During the uncertain environment surrounding Brexit in the UK, 43 per cent of SMEs are holding back investment.

Farmer said: “With many firms reliant on overseas workers it is unfortunately likely that this issue will only worsen when the UK leaves the EU next year. It’s important that businesses recognise the significant benefits that can be garnered by training existing employees.”

Perkbox co-founder Chieu Cao told Business Advice that employee retention and well-being is key to the success of a company, therefore urges SMEs to put employees well-being first which in turn will generate positive benefits for businesses.

A recruiting tip Cao suggests that owners should consider existing staff for job vacancies before reaching outside of the business, and identify opportunities to train-up current employees.

Cao believes there is much more a business owner can do to improve the workplace community. “Our people director at Perkbox acted like a mirror for our management, he showed me this is what you look like and act like to the rest of the company and this is how you are being interpreted is that what you want?

“Just by doing that forced me to reconsider and think about what I’ve said and from there I have learned to improve and be a better manager.”

Perkbox co-founder Chieu Cao urges SMEs to put employees first

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

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