Skills shortage is London’s biggest problem

A shortage of skilled staff is now the biggest barrier to business in the capital, overtaking transport problems for the first time, the latest CBI/KPMG London Business Survey reveals.

Sixty-one per cent of employers are facing skills shortages, a rise from 49% last year, with firms in the property, professional services and transport sectors worst affected.

The biggest problem is recruiting staff with specialist skills, but general skills such as communication and team-working, as well as basic literacy and numeracy deficiencies are also a concern, the study of 104 employers said.

Concerns about the transport network are the second biggest barrier to business in the capital, with regulation in third place, and lack of office space in fourth.

However, despite these concerns, businesses are increasingly positive about London as a place to do business with half saying it is still ‘very good’.

Sir Digby Jones, CBI director-general, said: “While it is positive news that London is still seen as a good place to do business, employers are right to be concerned about the difficulty in finding staff equipped with both basic and more advanced skills.

“Business does not expect young people to have all the skills to do a specific job but surely it is not asking too much of the government to ensure school-leavers have, at the very least, the ability to add up, read and write.”

Two-thirds of companies (62%) in the survey said staff training is the most worthwhile and rewarding form of business investment. Forty per cent aim to increase their spending on recruitment and training in the next six months.

The survey also reveals 29% of the capital’s companies have transferred some of their activities off-shore or are considering doing so. India is the most popular destination, followed by EU partner countries, China and the Far East.

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