Half of SMEs (50%) have changed the way they recruit as a result of Brexit, according to research from Albion Capital, the leading independent investment manager.
The findings from the Albion Growth Report 2017 reveal that for businesses which have changed their strategy as a result of Brexit, 15% have decreased recruitment resources, 10% have begun recruiting in different ways and 9% have made redundancies.
The survey of more than 1,000 SMEs ranks difficulty in finding skilled staff as one of the biggest barriers to growth, behind broader political uncertainty and cash flow, pointing to a potential war for talent which is likely to become more intense in the post-Brexit environment. By contrast, SMEs view difficulty in finding unskilled staff as the least significant barrier to growth.
The report finds that nearly two thirds (65%) of SMEs believe their business lacks expertise. More than a quarter (26%) of businesses lack marketing talent, followed by business planning (19%), IT (17%), and software developers and technology specialists (17%). Despite critical skills deficits, only a third of SMEs (33%) are currently hiring new employees.
The research also reveals the following skills and recruitment trends:
- SMEs in London (73%), the Midlands (64%) and Scotland (63%) are most likely to feel they lack expertise
- Media and marketing (74%), manufacturing (72%) and IT & telecoms (67%) businesses are most likely to feel they lack expertiseSMEs in London (46%), the Midlands (42%) and the North of England (33%) are recruiting most
- IT & telecoms (47%), finance and accounting (44%) and manufacturing (44%) businesses are recruiting most
- Of businesses currently recruiting new staff, specialists in sales (9%), operations (9%) and software development and technology (7%) are most sought after
Patrick Reeve, Managing Partner, Albion Capital, says: "It is now obvious that SMEs are becoming more strategic in their approaches to recruitment in response to challenges from the external environment, including Brexit.
"As the difficulty of finding skilled workers increases, in particular for sales, marketing and IT roles, SMEs are realising they must adapt. While there is evidence that recruitment budgets are shrinking, employers have also refocused their efforts on retaining existing talent, or being nimble and innovative to pursue new ways of finding staff."