SME owners struggling to fill skilled roles

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Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are finding it hard to attract the skilled hires they need, a new survey has revealed.

According to research by Smith & Williamson, just 40 per cent of SME owners believe there are enough suitably trained people available to meet their business's needs.

This could pose a problem as more than half would like to boost headcount at their firm during the next three months.

John Morris, scale-up lead at Smith & Williamson, commented: "Most people have grown their business because they are very good at what they do. 

"To continue to scale, they will need to attract talent for the day-to-day running of the business as well as specialist skills and expertise, where appropriate."

However, Mr Morris stated that many SME owners believe there "simply aren't enough" trained people in the employment pool with the kind of skills to help them grow.

He said the level of negativity among SME owners about the ability of the talent pool has not been so strong since the beginning of 2015.

Mr Morris therefore suggested that businesses looking to scale but struggling to find the right candidates should consider if there is potential in cross-skilling existing employees.

Another factor affecting SMEs' growth ambitions is the fact that many bosses are finding it difficult to adapt to the leadership and management demands of running a business.

Figures from Smith & Williamson showed that just one in five spend an adequate amount of time working on their business.

Mr Morris insisted that SME owners looking to scale their business should be spending at least one day a week working on their strategy and actively managing their venture.

He suggested that while some entrepreneurs might excel in their area of expertise, they might find it hard to take on business management responsibilities.

"If we want our smaller businesses to scale up, more needs to be done to help those involved," Mr Morris said.