Research by the Gatsby Foundation shows that 81% of small businesses in England face major recruitment problems. The survey of over 500 small business hiring managers shows that rising costs are the biggest issue for small businesses.
Particularly in industries which require digital skills, talent sourcing is also a problem. 43% believe that sourcing talent is the second biggest problem, behind rising costs, and 55% stated that there is a lack of skilful and knowledgeable candidates.
John Garrido, who serves as Regional Vice President UK for WithYouWithMe, believes upskilling is the answer.
“In the current climate of rising costs and economic instability, the need for digitally proficient people is more urgent than ever to help lead businesses forward,” Garrido says, “The issue does not lie with a lack of available staff, in fact there is a significant untapped pool of skilled individuals who are key to solving the digital skills crisis.”
Training current employees in necessary skills rather than finding new hires can reduce cost and give employees an opportunity to expand their knowledge. Despite this, 86% of SMEs surveyed stated that they are having trouble with upskilling, and that they are failing to attract digital talent.
Jenifer Burden, MBE, who is Director of Programmes at Gatsby, explains that changes in the way skills and education are acquired can make the issue difficult to understand.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and society, but there’s no doubt they’re facing a tough year ahead. As our research shows, one of their major challenges is getting to grips with the education and skills landscape, which has changed and can be complex to understand,” Burden says.
There is evidence to suggest an untapped talent pool in groups which are frequently and unfairly overlooked. WithYouWithMe research suggests that autistic people score around 10% higher than other groups in tech skills. More broadly, 32% of neurodivergent individual score higher in spatial awareness and digital symbol coding which directly translate to careers in tech.
As small businesses struggle to find employees with digital skills, it is now more important than ever to look at training existing employees and hiring people from groups which have historically been overlooked.