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Upskilling your workforce

I have supported SME’s for a long time in my career as an HR professional and I love the dynamic style and nature of how an SME operates. However, the one thing that I see over and over again is that SMEs tend to be deprived in the area of training and development. I am generalising of course, but it does seem that SMEs do not find it very easy to support the development needs of their workforce to achieve their future potential.

A stark example of the difference between SME’s and larger organisations is when it comes to apprenticeships. Less than a quarter of SMEs offer apprenticeships, whereas approx 50% of larger organisations offer apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are a key and cost-effective method to support employees to develop for a relatively low cost or in fact for no cost at all if you can get access to the right support and funding. 

It is a challenge for SMEs to upskill their workforce for a plethora of reasons, however, I think we can put them down to a few key elements:

  1. Money
  2. Time
  3. Access to information

SME’s generally turn a lower level of Gross Profit than larger businesses meaning they have left ‘disposable income’ to redistribute to developing their workforce.

Most people within an SME multitask and therefore there is not the time to find, develop and train future talent and most SME’s want to bring in people that already have experience to hit the ground running.

If SME’s have good strategic and forward-thinking HR support (that money availability normally prevents) then they would have increased knowledge and capability to create the plans and programmes which could enable them to develop and train the future talent.

I think that post Brexit we will not have the luxury of recruiting as many experienced or skilled people to hit the ground running and we will have no choice but to work on upskilling our employees.

Many SME’s in the manufacturing, hospitality and construction sectors in particular cite a difficulty in attracting candidates to fill jobs at the moment and I think this issue could be compounded further when we see continued UK growth as we emerge post Covid.

There will be some buoyancy returning to the candidate side of the job market when the government furlough scheme finally comes to an end but I am not sure that this labour availability will be the match for the skills gap that we are currently seeing.

As part of an effective workforce forecasting process, we can support businesses to develop their training and skill development plans to close gaps before they impact the business. We can also help you address more chronic skills needs through effective recruitment, retention and development plans.

Contact ViewHR to see how we can support you to get your business in the best possible shape.