Skills gap hampering scale-ups

Earlier this week Sherry Coutu shared her regular scale up newsletter, which as a leading tech scale up, we’ve been following since she published The Scale Up Report on UK Economic Growth in late November 2014.

In it were some valuable insights and findings on the state of growing companies and their requirements for capital, management, skills and organizational processes. One area that particularly caught our attention was the ongoing ‘skills gap’ issue, something that is close to Sage People’s heart.

The report calls for ‘an improvement in the ecosystem so scale-ups can find employees to hire that have the skills they need’. We couldn’t agree more – retaining and developing your best people is something we at Sage People talk about a lot, as it is at the heart of all our customers’ (and our own) agendas.

Other areas of interest included:

  • the need “to offer young people a true picture of 21st-century manufacturing” and “to address the chronic shortage of physics teachers.” We would include technology as an urgent skills area to address
  • the creation of new support bodies backed by some of the best-known names in regional tech scenes; to champion emerging specialisms and support tech start-ups with finding investment, talent and continued success
  • the lack of women in tech no longer goes unnoticed; that said, it is not being tackled head on as an existential issue for the technology industry with still too few women coming into technology (though at Sage People, we have a 50/50 gender split among our developers)

It’s clear then that the demand to blend talent, longevity and development is increasing and scale ups cannot lack ways of gaining instant insights into their workforce – from the kind of people employed, to which skills mixes there are across genders and geographies. Doing so can only benefit us, and business in the long run.

Sherry’s report appeared the same week that Sage People was shortlisted as ‘Highest Potential Growth Business’ SME by Growth Business. Key to our growth, at the heart of this award nomination, has been that we focus on our people, and hire from a diverse range of backgrounds and skills.

Scaling has been a big topic for Sage People of late, with the fantastic recent news of our Sage partnership, which will offer us a platform to offer our HCM cloud solution to the mid size market globally. In fact it will remain in the press over the next week with the Scale Up For Europe event taking place in Porto, Portugal, over 25-27 May.

However, regardless of where your business is located, we would suggest a focus on attracting, motivating, and rewarding the skill beyond the demographic – you may just be surprised at what your organization can achieve. If we as a nation or a continent or a global economy can crack the skills problem, we may just start to make scale ups, and not just the traditional enterprise giants, synonymous with international success.

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