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Entrepreneurs see widening skills gap

June 5th 07, 10:34

A survey launched today has revealed that a staggering 74 per cent of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year finalists believe there is a skills shortage in their industry, suggesting the positive moves by the government to improve education and training have not yet filtered through to the benefit of the business community

In the same survey, nearly two thirds of the entrepreneurs questioned found it difficult to recruit staff with the right qualifications, and over half of respondents said that recruiting/retaining staff had become a more important issue for them over the last two years.

The findings are part of an Ernst & Young survey into issues impacting Hampshire and UK entrepreneurs, which has been conducted to coincide with the announcement of the short listed finalists for the 2007 Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards programme.

These latest statistics support mounting evidence of the widening ‘skills gap’ in UK industry. With the leaving age for compulsory education possibly rising to 18, the imminent introduction of five vocational diplomas in 2008, and the recent announcement by former CBI chief, Sir Digby Jones, of a new GCSE in construction, skills training has never been higher on the agenda.

Nick Powell, a partner in Ernst & Young’s Southampton office, said: “Despite some positive efforts by the Government to improve skills and training, these have not yet filtered through to the region’s businesses.

“As the lifeblood of the UK economy, it is concerning that entrepreneurial business growth could be stifled by a talent pool which lacks the required skills and training.

“However, despite this, it is encouraging that there are an increasing number of entrepreneurial businesses that are developing as the regional economy continues its transformation and development.

Continuing, Mr Powell said: “This year’s short listed finalists for the 2007 Entrepreneur Of The Year awards are a clear indication that enterprise is thriving across the region.”

Two business leaders have been shortlisted from Hampshire: Sean Fergusson, Managing Director of Branded Media Ltd; and Jamie Harwood, Managing Director of UK Web Media.

Branded Media Ltd, based in Basingstoke, Hampshire, is a complete one-stop-shop for CD and DVD replication, packaging design and fulfilment.

UK Web Media, based in Andover, Hampshire, is one of the largest affiliate marketing specialists in the UK.

Speaking about Entrepreneur Of The Year, Mr Powell said: “Hampshire celebrated tremendous success in last year’s awards programme, showcasing the cream of entrepreneurial talent in the region.

“Again, this year we have a strong selection of finalists who are leading innovative, fast growth businesses, which are best in class. Competition for a finalist place was particularly fierce this year.”

The winners will be announced at the South Region awards banquet on Monday 25th June at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole Hotel.

Source: Ernst & Young

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