PAYE umbrella companies on the lookout for future work placements may be intrigued by new research from the British Chambers of Commerce, which reveals that almost half of the UK’s SMEs are struggling to find appropriately skilled staff.

It’s a well-known fact that umbrella companies are a source of highly skilled professionals, who may well find themselves the immediate beneficiaries of this skills shortage as firms scramble to find the qualified staff they need to survive. 6,000 small companies were surveyed in the study and 45% reported that they were finding it either “difficult” or “very difficult” to find candidates with the necessary skills.

The exodus of refugees from the public sector, which is set to rise further, does not appear to be helping. Sadly, the firms included in the study were somewhat unimpressed by ex-public sector workers who had applied for their posts after six months or more of joblessness.

Many firms complain that younger candidates especially lack basic literacy and numeracy skills and a significant number are deficient in softer skills too, such as timekeeping and communication. However, 45% of the respondents said that they were much more confident about appointing graduates when they were available, although that percentage plunged to 29% when it came to appointing school leavers with A-levels (or equivalent qualifications).

BCC Director General, John Longworth, said that in order to remain competitive, SMEs need capable personnel; even though many of them wish to expand their workforce, they are struggling to find candidates who have the requisite skills for the jobs on offer.

Umbrella company contractors could well be of considerable help in these circumstances.

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