Fifty per cent of SMEs believe that a scarcity of suitably experienced or qualified personnel has had the most significant impact on productivity, according to a new study by private equity firm Key Capital Partners (KCP).
A decline in productivity has affected Britain’s economy over the past six years, which has seen the efficiency of its workforce fall to a 20 year low against other leading economies.
KCP’s latest Growth Panel survey, which polled 100 businesses, revealed that the average British SME is operating at 72 per cent of their optimum performance.
Nearly a third believe that staff are not maximising the resources given to them, while a quarter suggested that being a smaller business limits funds available to invest in the newest equipment or technologies.
Of the 55 per cent of SMEs that believe their business lacks sufficient highly skilled professionals, half will be looking at increasing spending on training.
Other businesses plan to implement a more efficient and specialised recruitment system, with 25 per cent interested specifically in a graduate scheme.
Interestingly, half of respondents identified Germany as the nation for the UK to emulate in terms of efficiency and productivity.
The US, China and Sweden are also seen as aspirational economies for British business, with only 25 per cent believing that UK SMEs are among the world’s best for productivity.
Peter Armitage, investment partner of Key Capital Partners, said:
“Economic recovery and growing confidence is enabling British SMEs to shift their focus from survival and look towards sustainable growth.
“However, the scale of growth continues to be hampered by poor performance in terms of productivity, with recent ONS statistics putting output per hour worked in the UK 21 per cent lower than the average for the G7.
With productivity critical to growth, it is important, and encouraging, to see businesses looking for ways to optimise efficiency.”
One of the companies surveyed was West Midlands-based MiGlass, one of the largest independent glass processors in Europe.
Alan Taylor, managing director at MiGlass, said:
“MiGlass has consistently invested in people and high tech machinery throughout the last few years and has managed to maintain reasonable growth.
“However, we are now looking to significantly increase our training budgets and are exploring options to launch an apprentice scheme. This focus on service levels and efficiencies will ensure growth is sustainable and profitable.”