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News - 8 April 2005
Not necessarily the best way to learn about the trials of running a shop

Skills gap most acute in retail

The FSB is calling on election candidates to address concerns about skills gaps. Meanwhile KPMG has revealed that this is a major concern for more than half of London businesses. Furthermore according to the KPMG study the problem is most acute in the retail sector.

According to the FSB the figures nationwide are less severe than in the capital but nevertheless they are daunting. Feedback from the FSB's 185,000 members has revealed that in addition to concerns about the skills levels of existing employees, 36% of small firms find it difficult to recruit skilled staff.

The KPMG study highlights a real danger that jobs will go to qualified people from the new EU accession states and transient workers from Australia and New Zealand.

Training is the obvious answer and a great deal of money and resource has been put into developing courses. The problem is that formal training is not always relevant to businesses' needs. For small businesses, particularly in the retail sector, a more creative approach is needed.

In sectors such as retail on-the-job training may prove to be more valuable than learning in a classroom situation.

The FSB is calling for a sustained investment in skills to boost productivity and is urging politicians to provide funding for flexible packages so that training can take place in the workplace at times that are convenient for the business owner or manager.

Britain's biggest business organisation is calling on the political parties to commit to:

  • Enhanced funding for private learning providers that deliver the bespoke, work-based packages that small businesses need
  • Apprenticeships that are responsive to employer demands
  • Short training courses targeted at solving specific business problems

The Brighton & Hove Economic Partnership (BHEP) is working with the Local Skills for Productivity Alliance (LSPA) to identify retail training needs in Sussex.

Read related items on:
Learning Opportunities
Brighton & Hove Economic Partnership
Federation of Small Businesses
Local Skills for Productivity Alliance

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