A shortage of skilled staff has been identified as the biggest obstacle to growth for small businesses, according to an independent capital investor firm.
This is the first time that SMEs have identified a shortage of skilled staff as the biggest challenge, ahead of red tape and regulation, a report has shown.
The report, published by Albion Ventures, showed that the skills shortage is most acute among London-based small firms, followed by those in the South East and the North West.
Political uncertainty and leaving the EU were ranked the fourth and sixth biggest challenges respectively, suggesting that small business owners are most concerned with tangible obstacles to growth rather than those over which they have less control.
According to the fourth Albion Growth Report, which is based on interviews with 1,000 SMEs and sheds light on the factors that create and impede growth in post-Brexit Britain, the biggest skills gap reported by over a quarter (26%) of SMEs is marketing, followed by new technology (21%) and business planning (17%). The smallest skills gap is in Financial Management with only 9% of small business owners reporting problems.
On a regional basis, entrepreneurs in the East Midlands are the most underpowered in marketing with a third (32%) lacking expertise in this area, followed by those in the West Midlands and the South West with 30%.
Patrick Reeve, managing partner at Albion Ventures, noted that a shortage of skilled staff shows that the growth pressures on the economy are at the most sophisticated end of the scale, which is where people can expect to generate the biggest returns.
He commented: “Policymakers charged with deciding our post-Brexit future must recognise that many of the skills that enable us to compete in a fast-changing and increasingly competitive world are in short supply and our best chance of overcoming this challenge is by building on the UK’s first class reputation as a home for global talent.”
The table below shows the level of responses 1,000 SMEs gave when asked in which areas does their business lack expertise.