But skills shortages and talent attraction and retention present a big challenge
Medium-sized business in the UK are set to create more jobs than their European competitors as growth prompts employers to accelerate their recruitment plans, research has suggested.
GE Capital’s research on European mid-market firms found that UK employers in this group - defined as posting annual turnover of £15 million to £800 million - will grow sales by 6.1 per cent in the next 12 months, compared to 4.8 per cent in Germany, 3.4 per cent in France and 3.8 per cent in Italy. UK businesses are predicted to outpace their German counterparts on growth, jobs and export expansion and with revenue growth that will equate to £133bn in the next 12 months.
As a result of this expansion, the report found that British mid-market organisations will create an estimated 326,000 jobs compared to 150,000 in Germany, as UK employers speed up recruitment in response to increasing sales. In addition to this growth, more than one in three of these UK employers that currently have offshore sites are considering re-shoring some of them over the next three years.
However, the report predicts that the biggest challenge for employers will be attracting people with the right set of skills, while attracting top managerial talent and retaining talented employees are further challenges for business. This represents a shift from the main concerns highlighted in previous GE Capital research in 2013, which revealed employers key challenges as keeping down business costs and overheads.
“Overall UK mid-markets are happy with the current business environment, but notable regional differences persist with businesses in the south generally growing faster than those in the north,” commented report author professor Stephen Roper from Warwick Business School.
“This may, in part, be explained by a stronger focus on export markets in the south. Companies in the north also have more negative perceptions of transport and broadband infrastructure. Greater export support and infrastructure investments in these areas could help to redress the growth imbalance.”
Ilaria del Beato, chief executive of GE Capital UK, added: “While the mid-market is thinking bigger, it still has critical challenges to overcome, particularly as the competition for talent becomes much tougher, more so than regulation, keeping costs down, and access to finance.”
And John Cridland, CBI director-general, said: ”As the economic recovery continues to build momentum, UK mid-market firms are playing a key role in creating new jobs and markets, as well as competing on the international stage. We must build on this strong performance; addressing skills gaps and overcoming concerns around cost pressures that impact on business confidence.”