SMEs are optimistic but are struggling to bridge the talent gap

A new report from Albion Ventures reveals that while 73% of British SMEs are expecting to grow in the next two years, they feel hindered by their ability to source skilled workers

SMEs are optimistic but are struggling to bridge the talent gap

If you’ve ever doubted the perseverance of startups in the UK then a new report from Albion Ventures, a venture capitalist investor, should wash those worries away. Not only are almost three-quarters of British SMEs feeling bullish about the future but they’re also expecting to grow their business either dramatically or moderately within the next two years. However, the expansion plans have left them with the challenge of recruiting the right people.

Of the 1,000 business owners surveyed in the report, 50% said they estimated that their workforce would expand in the next two years. But it won’t all be plain sailing as respondents also expect finding skilled staff to be their biggest hurdle. Other challenges cited by the business owners include  problems caused by red tape, regulatory change and difficulty accessing new markets. “While many of the pressures on growth we have seen in recent years have eased, the skills that enable us to compete are in short supply,” said Patrick Reeve, managing partner at Albion Ventures.

Given the market’s reaction to Theresa May’s indication that the government will opt for a hard Brexit, it’s hardly surprising that the decision to leave the EU ranked as the sixth biggest worry in the report. While 36% of entrepreneurs think Brexit could be a force for good that might help them enter new markets, 41% expect their business to experience negative consequences as a direct result of the country’s exit from the EU.

The report also revealed that millennial entrepreneurs are particularly pessimistic, with 54% saying they expect leaving the EU to negatively affect their ability to enter new markets. And business owners in Scotland – which voted to stay in –  think the fallout from Brexit will be their biggest challenge in the next two years while a third of business leaders in London – which also voted to remain in the EU – thought the same.

While Brexit-related jitters are certain to make the headlines for months to come, it’s encouraging to see that recent market instability hasn’t dampened the optimism of British startups. Onwards and upwards.

Eric Johansson
Eric Johansson

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