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UK small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face a skills gap that could impact revenue by £145,000 in the next year, rising to £318,000 in the next five years.
According to new research, the UK’s skills gap, which is the difference in skills required within an organisation and the actual skills possessed by an organisation’s workforce, is one of the most pressing issues facing UK firms.
The skills gap has widened for a number of reasons, including a shrinking talent pool due to Brexit, increased digitisation and economic influences. This is affecting the UK’s productivity levels, which are now the lowest in the G7.
The study found that small firms are concerned about the potential impact of macroeconomic events on the skills gap in their organisations. For example, 60 per cent of those polled said that a recession would negatively impact the skills gap in their business, followed by 47 per cent who cited Brexit as a major factor.
However, a quarter of those polled said Brexit would have no impact on their skills gap at all, while almost half said the same about a General Election before 2020.
Many business owners are doing their best to shrink the gap, with almost two-thirds intending to train and upskill existing staff to address it, with other strategies such as recruiting permanent staff and hiring temporary staff being implemented.
According to one of the report’s authors, the skills gap can impact the bottom line. He suggested that the priority for small firms for the next year should be identifying and filling gaps within their organisation and training and development initiatives, with a focus on upskilling existing staff are the obvious starting points.