Unfilled Vacancies 'Costing Small Businesses'

SMEs Report Shortfall Of 520,000 Staff Due To Skill Shortages

10.11.2014

Fergal Dowling, Partner | +44 (0)121 214 5476

UK small businesses are missing out on generating billions of pounds of revenue for themselves and the economy due to staffing skill shortages, a new report has found.

The study by online lender Everline and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) has concluded that £520,000-worth of jobs go unfilled due to SMEs being unable to get the kind of staff they need.

On average, small business owners spend 100 hours each looking for the right candidates or training their own staff to develop the skills they and the business require. When equated to the time that could be spent on developing the business in other ways if suitable staff had been available from the outset, the cost per small company is £3,160.

The problem is focused more on younger business owners, with the average extra cost being £7,540 for those aged 18-34, but only £1,860 for business owners aged 55 or older.

In the last month, 16 per cent of owners were unable to fill a vacancy and only 17 per cent stated that their staff are trained in every aspect of the job.

Small businesses have been finding the challenge harder as vacancies have risen in line with economic growth - and the report found SMEs plan to hire more staff in 2015, increasing the pressure.

Commenting on the situation, CEBR director Charles Davis said: "As small businesses continue to create jobs and this reduces unemployment faster than expected, we are seeing skill shortages become an ever greater challenge.

"Business leaders that need to be focused on strategy are being tied up in the desperate search for the right talent. Ultimately, the time lost through this amounts to an £18 billion loss to the UK economy."

He added that an improvement in skill levels could close the £18 billion shortfall and thus reduce the UK productivity gap.

The lack of available staff is a serious problem for the whole UK economy, according to the latest KPMG Report on Jobs, which said the decline in availability in October was "marked".

Expert Opinion
With the economy continuing to improve, SMEs have a huge chance to growth and develop their offerings through taking up new opportunities. Sadly however, this research demonstrates how many small businesses are held back as a result of failing to get the right talent and skills into their workforce.

"Recruitment is undoubtedly a core issue for any business and it is vital that SMEs quickly get to grips with the issue when looking to bring in new talent.

"Central to this is seeking tailored advice from experts including lawyers, with legal experts being able to provide information and detail on how to get the right employment processes and systems in place to growth an engaged and happy workforce."
Fergal Dowling, Partner