SMEs acknowledge struggles with skills gaps across many operational areas

Almost nine out of ten employers are facing significant challenges recruiting essential employees with sufficient skills and qualifications.

That’s according to the Chambers Ireland SME Skills Gap survey which was carried out the survey in advance of the government’s consultation on critical skills and employment permits which closed last Friday.

With over 400 respondents, 95% of micro-businesses that responded were experiencing skills gaps. Over half of small businesses have found customer facing roles challenging to fill, while for two-thirds of medium-sized enterprises, management positions are the most difficult to recruit for.

The survey found that those gaps decreased slightly the bigger the business; whereas 95% of micro business respondents have skills gaps, that decreased to 85% for small businesses and 78% of medium businesses.

For micro businesses, the biggest skills gaps came in the technically qualified professions and trades (53%), and administration (36%).

Small businesses reported skills gaps in customer-facing roles (54%) and management (42%), while medium businesses reversed those skills problems, with gaps in management (66%) and customer-facing roles (38%).

Digging deeper, the majority of small and medium businesses reported multiple areas where they have skills gaps.

“Businesses across the country are facing severe challenges in recruiting qualified employees. This is having an enormous impact on their ability to grow and increase trade,” said Chambers Ireland’s Chief Executive, Ian Talbot.

“While it is beyond the scope of the employment lists review, our members are calling on government to simplify the permitting and visa process. There should be a single application process for both, and we need fewer, broader permits, not new classes of them.

Pictured: Challenges…Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot.

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