Research from independent investment manager Albion Capital suggests half of SMEs (50 per cent) have changed the way they recruit as a result of Brexit. The findings from the Albion Growth Report 2017 reveal that for businesses which have changed their strategy as a result of Brexit, 15 per cent have decreased recruitment resources, 10 per cent have begun recruiting in different ways and 9 per cent have made redundancies.
The survey of more than 1,000 SMEs ranks difficulty in finding skilled staff as one of the biggest barriers to growth, behind broader political uncertainty and cash flow, pointing to a potential war for talent which is likely to become more intense in the post-Brexit environment. By contrast, SMEs view difficulty in finding unskilled staff as the least significant barrier to growth.
The report finds that nearly two thirds (65 per cent) of SMEs believe their business lacks expertise. More than a quarter (26 per cent) of businesses lack marketing talent, followed by business planning (19 per cent), IT (17 per cent), and software developers and technology specialists (17 per cent). Despite critical skills deficits, only a third of SMEs (33 per cent) are currently hiring new employees.
The research also reveals the following skills and recruitment trends:
•SMEs in London (73 per cent), the Midlands (64 per cent) and Scotland (63 per cent) are most likely to feel they lack expertise
•Media and marketing (74 per cent), manufacturing (72 per cent) and IT & telecoms (67 per cent) businesses are most likely to feel they lack expertise
•SMEs in London (46 per cent), the Midlands (42 per cent) and the North of England (33 per cent) are recruiting most
•IT & telecoms (47 per cent), finance and accounting (44 per cent) and manufacturing (44 per cent) businesses are recruiting most
•Of businesses currently recruiting new staff, specialists in sales (9 per cent), operations (9 per cent) and software development and technology (7 per cent) are most sought after
“It is now obvious that SMEs are becoming more strategic in their approaches to recruitment in response to challenges from the external environment, including Brexit,” says Patrick Reeve, managing partner, Albion Capital. “As the difficulty of finding skilled workers increases, in particular for sales, marketing and IT roles, SMEs are realising they must adapt. While there is evidence that recruitment budgets are shrinking, employers have also refocused their efforts on retaining existing talent, or being nimble and innovative to pursue new ways of finding staff.”