Sector - skills

Skills boost for SMES

A new poll of SMEs across the construction sector reveals – while 2023 may be a challenging year – they still expect on average a 20% growth in revenue. The Skills Horizon barometer, launched by the Skills for Life campaign, asked 1,250 SMEs in England about their challenges and opportunities when it comes to skills and recruitment in the year ahead, has found many are exploring the best ways to strengthen their workforce to achieve this growth.

In the construction sector specifically, it reveals 61% are planning to invest in upskilling their workforce, bolstering their capabilities for the year ahead.

The Skills for Life campaign aims to help SMEs understand all the training and employment schemes available to them, including Apprenticeships, T Levels, Skills Bootcamps, HTQs and Multiply numeracy courses. Businesses who are considering hiring employees can access a range of government programmes offering work experience or upskilling existing staff, some of which offer financial incentives.

Nearly half (40%) of SMEs in the construction industry rank staffing challenges – such as recruitment and skills – amongst their top three concerns for 2023. However, nearly half (45%) plan to invest in building digital skills within their company and over a third (35%) will encourage staff to engage in current or free training resources – such as Skills for Life Bootcamps. Many SMEs in the construction sector are hoping this will help them tackle the challenges they face with recruitment and staffing in 2023, as they cite their three top recruitment and staffing concerns as retaining staff (39%), not having enough employees with the right skills (43%) and not being able to recruit new employees with the right skills (40%) and. Over a quarter (29%) are seeking to hire from broad education routes such as apprentices and T Levels students.

Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education Robert Halfon said: “Boosting skills in key sectors like digital, manufacturing and healthcare is essential to building a skills nation and the government is investing in resources and skills qualifications – spending over £3.8bn this Parliament.

“This investment is being recognised by SMEs who are planning to invest in upskilling their workforce this year, and I would encourage businesses of all sizes follow suit.

“Whether it’s through apprenticeships, T Levels or courses in essential numeracy and literacy skills, there are free and flexible ways for employers to tap into the highly skilled workforce they need to thrive.”

To find training and employment schemes for your business, as well as support on how to implement these, visit:

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