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A third of digital SMEs cite skills gap as growth barrier

SME digital skills
Image credit: DC Studio / Shutterstock

More than a third of British digital SMEs say that a lack of technically skilled candidates is a major barrier to growth, according to a new report.

A survey of 816 SMEs from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found that 38% of companies in the IT sector reported that hiring appropriately skilled staff was slowing development.

The report said that the constant up-skilling, as well as the deep base level of knowledge required for tech firms, means hiring and scaling is a major challenge.

A lack of digital skills has been identified as a key strategic barrier for SMEs, the tech industry and the UK economy’s growth as a whole. A study from last year found that 81% of the managing directors surveyed in the UK said a lack of digital skills was affecting their company.

“Small businesses are eager to grow but many find themselves at a standstill, with skills shortages putting a brake on their ambitions,” said FSB policy and advocacy chair Tina Mckenzie.

“The future of our economy relies on skills. Unless we create pathways for small businesses to tap into a readily available talent pool, the economy is at risk.

“This is more than just patching over a hole in the ceiling – it’s about empowering a workforce that can propel the economy forward.”

Last week, the government announced a £200m training scheme that will support colleges and universities in offering more options for key skills development.