Smaller and growing businesses are struggling to hire the right talent, according to new research.
The latest quarterly Enterprise Index survey by accountancy group Smith & Williamson has found that only 38% of business leaders believe that the workforce is sufficiently trained or educated to help them achieve their growth plans.
And the poll of over 200 business leaders and entrepreneurs also found that 66% of businesses are currently seeking new hires.
"Having the right people available to support our smaller and growing businesses is crucial to their success. They need to hire to grow, but the talent is scarce," said Guy Rigby, head of entrepreneurial services at Smith & Williamson.
British SMEs remain optimistic, however. The findings show that 80% of respondents expect growth in their own businesses over the next 12 months and 69% are optimistic about their prospects for the future.
"We are seeing continuing confidence in the UK's entrepreneurial eco-system," said Rigby. However, the lack of skilled workers is an issue that is set to become even more pressing as the UK leaves the EU, he warns.
"If Britain is to continue to be a world-leading place for entrepreneurs to start their businesses, and for these businesses to transition to scale-ups, we need to ensure the workforce has adequate capacity. As a lot of this talent currently comes from overseas, Brexit has brought the need for an accessible work-related visa into the public eye."
The survey also highlights falling confidence in Government, with only 28% of those polled saying that policy surrounding private enterprise is supportive. In addition, less than a third (30%) of respondents believe that the UK economy will improve in the next 12 months.
"It is not just the policy that small business owners worry about, but also the individuals behind it. Entrepreneurs do not necessarily believe that the Government is working against them but, by continually shooting themselves in the foot, the Government portrays a general picture of ineptitude," said Rigby.