Author Profile Picture

Jamie Lawrence


Insights Director

Read more about Jamie Lawrence

UK SMEs concerned skills gap could impact profits and growth


Six out of ten (61%) SMEs believe there is a shortage of skills among their workers, according to the latest report from Lloyds TSB Commercial Banking.

A quarter (27%) point to gaps in marketing and sales skills, 21% emphasise IT knowledge and 15% cite management and leadership skills as areas that need attention. Just over one in ten (12%) say that project management skills need work while 11% point to team building skills.

When asked why these skills have not been given attention, 38% of businesses highlighted budget constraints, while 35% blame time pressures. Over one in 10 (13%) said they struggled to find the right training providers, while 12% are concerned about spending money to train staff who may then leave the business.

The same companies are concerned these skill gaps could:

  • damage future growth potential (44%)
  • inhibit their competitive edge (39%)
  • make them less profitable (37%)
  • stifle innovation (24%)
  • harm staff morale (19%)
  • negatively impact staff retention (12%)
  • reduce recruitment opportunities (11%)
  • make them less attractive to investors (9%)

In total, 95% of SMEs that identified skills gaps believe they are detrimental to the business. However, 30% of those questioned said employees have the required skills and require no additional training. This feeling was more acute in businesses with fewer employees.

David Oldfield, Managing Director, SME and Mid Markets Banking at Lloyds TSB, said: “If businesses are to seize opportunities for future growth and profitability, investment in skills needs to be at the top of their to do list. While there are some businesses that claim they have the skills they need for the future, most do recognise a need to develop skills across their workforce and can pinpoint the key areas in need of improvement.

"Given the recent economic headwinds that British businesses have had to endure it is understandable why some have not been able to make skills development a priority, but if they are to reach future potential growth they’d be wise to consider doing so now.”

One Response

  1. Absolutely right that

    Absolutely right that specific sectors and sub-sectors have particular priority skills needs, with some sectors citing critical skills needs which is in fact impacting on performance such as Oil and Gas where for example, Technicians and Engineers are in high demand, but there is also evidence that there is a general UK skills deficit in general management, project management and sales, which is impacting on performance and we know that UK Plc is slipping in the World wide skills league!
Author Profile Picture
Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence

Get the latest from HRZone.

Subscribe to expert insights on how to create a better workplace for both your business and its people.


Thank you.