By Daniel Hunter

Small to medium sized enterprise (SME) directors and senior managers are calling for greater investment in training and development for employees of growing businesses, as a lack of skilled employees is driving companies to look further afield to find top talent.

This was the conclusion of the round-table panel of business leaders from UK SMEs looking at employment trends for 2013, organised by the leading provider of flexible work space for growing businesses, Avanta Managed Offices.

Alan Pepper, CEO Avanta, commented on the employment challenge faced by many SMEs: “Start-ups and growing companies are often looking for a wide skill set from potential employees, and it’s becoming increasingly hard to find UK candidates that are ready to step into these roles.”

Andrew Bailey, Managing Director ABRS, is in agreement: “SMEs want to see the return on investment from trained employees, and therefore want to make this investment themselves but this can prove difficult for a start-up in terms of resource and cost. Turning further afield, SMEs are now finding skilled employees from outside of the UK with the drive and training to grow the business, but are struggling on home ground. ”

Low confidence in the health of the UK economy is the main challenge holding back Britain’s prosperity.

But Sylwia Szostak, Financial Director and Managing Consultant Leverage Partnership, is adamant the UK will recoup the drive that we saw at the onset of the recession: “We’re seeing a second stage effect from four or five years ago, when there was a surge in entrepreneurial spirit and a rise in the number of people starting up their own business. We need this return of confidence for the growth of the UK economy.”

Pepper said in conclusion: “Entrepreneurship will be a key catalyst of economic recovery. UK workers must be empowered with belief, drive and inspiration, and be allowed the ingredients needed to succeed — such as favourable business conditions, and access to capital.”

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