Staff skill short­age dilemma

Sale & Altrincham Advertiser - - FEDERATION OF SMALL BUSINESS -

SMALL busi­ness con­fi­dence re­mains ro­bust and firmly in pos­i­tive ter­ri­tory, ac­cord­ing to the first quar­ter re­sults of our lat­est Small Busi­ness In­dex sur­vey.

Lower busi­ness costs and cur­rent eco­nomic con­di­tions are re­liev­ing pres­sure for firms, giv­ing them the con­fi­dence to take on new staff, re­ward staff with pay in­creases, and suc­cess­fully ac­cess fi­nance from their banks to in­vest in and build their busi­ness.

Many busi­nesses have also fi­nally been able to re­ward staff with im­proved pay packets, which the re­sults sug­gest have been sup­ported by ris­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity growth, with the high­est pay in­creases in the ac­com­mo­da­tion, food, man­u­fac­tur­ing and con­struc­tion sec­tors.

Low in­fla­tion is help­ing busi­nesses’ bot­tom lines with the low­est-ever pro­por­tion of busi­nesses re­port­ing a year-on-year in­crease in costs, as well as putting more money in con­sumers’ pock­ets to spend in th­ese busi­nesses - thereby boost­ing con­fi­dence.

But it’s not all good news. Against a very pos­i­tive set of re­sults, busi­nesses con­tinue to strug­gle with skill short­ages, which is ham­per­ing growth.

Thirty-seven per cent of busi­nesses tell us that em­ploy­ing some­one with the right skills is a bar­rier for them to grow their busi­ness.

This num­ber is on the in­crease, a sharp rise from 25.4 per cent recorded 12 months ago.

It’s cru­cial that new and ex­ist­ing small firms have ap­pro­pri­ately skilled staff and tar­geted sup­port at a lo­cal level to grow their busi­nesses.

Bet­ter skilled work­ers are crit­i­cal for the UK to close the pro­duc­tiv­ity gap and achieve long-term eco­nomic growth; as well as com­pete with other coun­tries in the G7, such as France and Ger­many. That is why we must put in place a qual­ity, em­ploy­erled ap­pren­tice­ship sys­tem to widen our skills base.

In­creas­ing ex­ports against tough trad­ing con­di­tions in Europe is also prov­ing to be dif­fi­cult for busi­nesses.

De­spite th­ese head­winds, they nonethe­less re­main op­ti­mistic about prospects to in­crease ex­ports in the com­ing months. We want to see the next gov­ern­ment build on cur­rent mo­men­tum and cre­ate con­di­tions which pro­mote fur­ther growth and re­bal­ance the econ­omy.

It is im­por­tant that a new gov­ern­ment fol­lows through mea­sures out­lined in our Busi­ness Man­i­festo to pro­vide a sta­ble en­vi­ron­ment for small firms, with mea­sures built for the long-term to pro­vide the sta­bil­ity busi­nesses re­quire.

Learn more about our elec­tion man­i­festo at ibacks­mall­busi­ness. com.

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