'More training needed' in north-west SMEs
A skills gap in the north-west of the UK could prove disastrous for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) across the region. This is according to a new report from Lloyds TSB Commercial Banking, which found that while many companies questioned would like to roll out improved training among staff, they do not have the time or money to do so, reports the Liverpool Daily Post. Indeed, more than half (59 per cent) of SMEs in the north-west claimed to notice a shortage of skills among employees, with 17 per cent citing management and leadership qualities as a key area of development. Leigh Taylor, regional director for Lloyds TSB Commercial Banking in the Midlands and north, said if organisations do seize opportunities for future growth and profitability, investment in skills must be at the top of their agenda. He added: "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." The vast majority (94 per cent) of SMEs to have reported a skills gap in their company believe it could be detrimental to the success of their business. Furthermore, over one-fifth (21 per cent) stated they have difficulty hunting down the right training for their workforce and ten per cent are apprehensive about developing skills for workers who could soon leave. Mr Taylor remarked it is clear from the research that some employers at north-west SMEs are not taking enough action, when they must be doing all they can to position themselves for future growth. "Apprenticeship schemes are one option for businesses looking to grow future talent, and there are several organisations, such as the Sector Skills Council, who can help provide invaluable advice and guidance," he continued. This comes after experts from the North East Chamber of Commerce said last week that vocational training initiatives like apprenticeships could be just as valuable to young people as going to university.