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Home > News > May 2006 > 16-May-2006

Skills shortages are biggest barrier to business in London says survey

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

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

According to the survey, 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.

Overall, after skills, concerns over 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' and 45 per cent 'good'.

Ian Barlow, London senior partner at KPMG said: "The skills shortages in the capital are worrying and if left unaddressed will affect London's competitiveness. Business needs to be allowed to help shape the provision of skills training so that it becomes demand-led and equips people with the skills that employers are looking for. A key step is to restructure the London Skills Commission with strong business leadership.

"Individual businesses are already playing a significant role in helping schools prepare young people for the world of work. Partnering with schools can be beneficial in raising awareness of what business needs from today's young people and the opportunities it can provide for them.

"Addressing the skills shortage issue needs to be a priority for policy makers, whilst London's employers also have their part to play. If we want to continue to build world-beating companies, which deliver so many jobs and so much prosperity to Britain, then employers need to have access to a skilled workforce."

Two-thirds of companies (62 per cent) 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.

Sir Digby Jones, CBI director-general, said: "Our success, not only in the capital but nationally, increasingly relies on our ability to function as a highly skilled, hi-tech economy. 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."

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