HR · 9 January 2017

Revealed: Worrying city suffering most from skills gap

Skills gap
A high cost of living has caused a skills gap to emerge among professional jobs in London

Small business owners in London and the South East of England struggle more than any other UK region to recruit staff with the necessary skills for the job, according to a new study.

Research undertaken by small business retail bank Aldermore found that 55 per cent of company leaders in the capital had been affected by a skills gap, exceeding the national average of 43 per cent.

Small business owners in the East Midlands reported the most positive outlook, with almost three quarters encountering no shortage of trained and ready staff.

A lack of industry experience was the most common issue for over a quarter of survey respondents, while almost one in ten stated that the bureaucracy associated with new employees had impacted on their recruitment strategy.

Why does London suffer from a skills gap?

Recent research from CV-Library found that professional worker’s in the capital were the poorest of any UK region, despite having the highest average salary.

The jobsite’s founder, Lee Biggins, warned that despite “exciting job prospects”, high living costs meant that workers are left “high and dry” after pay day.

With a disposable income of just £65 per week for London’s professional workers, a “brain-drain” has emerged as skilled staff seek employment in parts of the UK where the cost of living is cheaper.

Commenting on the latest study, one Aldermore director, Carl D’Ammassa, advised owners to consider investment in current employees. 

“One area that firms can focus on to close the skills gap is by supporting training and development for their existing staff”, he said in a statement.

D’Ammassa added that a lack of digital skills was a problem of particular significance for many firms: “This is an area that we would urge the government to focus on.”

Closing the digital skills gap

In a recent article for Business Advice, Paul Haydock, CEO of invoice finance platform DueCourse, advised small business owners to adopt “smart recruiting” tactics – looking past traditional recruitment strategies to overcame the skills gap.

“To do this, they need to look beyond the CV and scrap formal interviews, swapping them instead for informal, face-to-face chats and tours of the business. It’s more about them selling the company to the candidate rather than the other way around.

“They say that the very best people are already in a job, and are probably happy there. With this in mind, company decision makers need to put a little planning, time and strategy into sniffing out the right talent, and then working out how to tempt them over.”

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.



Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

On the up