Research from a number of sources indicates that the UK’s mid-market firms are continuing to grow and to perform well beyond their actual representation within the economy. According to a report last year from GE Capital and the Warwick Business School, the average UK mid-market company grew by 3.9% in 2014, outperforming the UK’s overall GDP of 2.8%. There are, however, current constraints to the growth of medium-sized businesses. One of these is a skills gap.
Enduring Skills Gap Challenges
Being able to effectively recruit and retain skilled workers is a longstanding challenge for mid-market businesses. Alongside this are leadership challenges, arising from a need to maintain agility and flexibility against a changing economic landscape.
“Many middle-sized companies say that they face constraints on growth because of a lack of management and workforce skills”, observes Santander Relationship Director, Jonathan Barnes. “While this is, at one level, an HR issue, it can also come down to finance”.
Jonathan explains that currently service sectors achieve greater workforce and revenue growth than manufacturing, but addressing issues of investment in skills and training could help with this.
“There is a sense among some mid-market businesses that they are too big to benefit from policies aimed at small businesses. But in terms of training staff and developing suitable leadership skills, mid-market firms show a clear need”
Jonathan Barnes, Santander
Investing in the Future
“Medium-sized businesses are more likely to report a skills gap than their smaller counterparts, so they need support to help close these gaps“, continues Jonathan. “When it comes to technical training and establishing middle management tiers for succession planning, having the right financial resources to back this up can be crucial”.
Employers should help their employees learn new skills. Investing in people helps improve staff morale and helps businesses retain their staff, while attracting the best quality of people as employees. Ultimately it boosts productivity and performance.
“Investing in training is crucial,” Jonathan concludes, “whether this is through apprenticeship frameworks, earning and development programmes, or leadership training”.
Santander runs its own Breakthrough Talent SME internship programme. They have access to over 80 partnership universities as part of Breakthrough and match up businesses with interns eager to contribute. For more information, please visit santandercb.co.uk/breakthrough.
For more of Jonathan Barnes’ insights in to the issues facing mid-market businesses, please click on the links below: