One out of three SMEs believes Brexit will make recruitment harder

New research from Upwork reveals that many 11% of small companies in Britain worried about skills shortages have a plan in place

One out of three SMEs believes Brexit will make recruitment harder

Any entrepreneur worth their salt is aware of how important it is to find the right people for their startups. However, many SMES now fear that recruiting talented workers will become more difficult when Britain leaves the EU and that their growth will slow down as a consequence, according to new research from Upwork, the freelancing website.

Having surveyed 500 business owners, the company has revealed that a third of SMEs are expecting Brexit to make attracting and retaining talent more problematic. Among larger businesses with 50-250 employees, that number jumped to 56%. Of the concerned companies, 51% fear that the post-Brexit skills shortage will slow down their profit growth, 40% worry that their workforce will become less productive and 32% believe competing on the international stage will become more difficult. And 16% are concerned that they might go out of business altogether because of the skills shortage.

But despite their worries, only 11% of businesses have a plan in place for a post-Brexit skills squeeze. A further 39% are currently working on a plan and 48% say it’s either too early for them to make one or that they need to hear more about what Britain’s relationship with the EU will look like after Brexit.

The small number of businesses that already have a plan in place anticipate spending, on average, an extra £100,000 over the next two years to make up for the shortfall. Of that sum, 28% will be spent on commissioning work from freelance specialists from online platforms. Another 45% of businesses plan to train existing staff and 39% plan to increase salaries for new employees.

“There is already a well-documented skills gap in the UK and our research suggests that leaving the EU will make it even harder for SMEs to find the talent they need to compete effectively,” said Rich Pearson, senior vice president at Upwork. “Planning for the challenges ahead now by investing in alternative ways to source talent appears to be a winning strategy for SMEs.”

Until Brexit becomes a reality, we can only hope that Britain’s entrepreneurs will continue to prove themselves to be resourceful and resilient.

Eric Johansson
Eric Johansson

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