Skilled staff shortage now one of biggest risks to city businesses

Shoppers in Norwich (Picture: ANTONY KELLY)

Footfall might be on the rise in Norwich - but businesses remain uncertain - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

The lack of skilled employees is now posing a major risk to businesses, a new report has found. 

Aviva, which employs 5,000 people out of Norwich's Surrey Street, found in its latest study that economic concerns top the table of the biggest risk to British business. 

A total of 37pc of more than 1,200 firms interviewed said economic concerns posed the biggest threat to their future. 

But they remained optimistic in their own fortunes with 61pc saying they were confident in their own prospects with only 34pc saying they felt certain of the UK's trajectory. 

However the skilled worker shortage has become an increasing concern with 28pc citing it as a risk. 

That is up 11pc on 2020 with 71pc of firms saying the crisis is "urgent". 

The news was no surprise to Candy Richards, regional development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses, who said: “We know that for many of our small businesses, one of the biggest barriers to growth is recruiting the right staff.

Candy Richards

Candy Richards, development manager (East Anglia) at Federation of Small Businesses - Credit: Candy Richards

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"With job vacancies at a historic high, small businesses cannot afford to outbid bigger businesses to fill vacancies. And without the right staff, some of our small businesses simply won’t be able to continue operating, let alone grow.

"We need to see measures that genuinely encourage growth such as increasing the employment allowance to £5,000 and supporting high streets to recover by expanding the Small Business Rates Relief to a rateable value of £25,000, removing an additional 200,000 small firms from the scope of this tax.

“Without these measures, we run a real risk of small firms simply being unable to afford the skilled staff that they need to keep their business running.”

Adam Winslow, chief executive of UK & Ireland general insurance at Aviva, added: "While some risks are not wholly in our control, there is much we can do to mitigate them. Concerns about the economy, the workforce and the trading environment cannot be seen in isolation, and the risk they pose can be reduced through foresight, careful planning and active management.

"How a business charts its course through these risks will have a direct impact on its reputation with both customers and employees."

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