Shortages of IT Skills in UK SMEs

Brychan Thomas, Gary Packham, Piers Thompson, Robert Williams

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


    The Internet may allow small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to compete globally with multinationals, but it is feared that much internet usage is suboptimal (Litchy and Rail, 2000). A majority of SMEs in the UK with websites use them only as electronic brochures with no facility for interaction with customers (Williams et al., 2010). One explanation is a shortage of IT skills available in the firms' workforces (Drew, 2003). This paper examines whether this is likely to be the case, and whether those firms embracing the Internet are being held back by a lack of skills. Using data from a survey of UK business owners the utilisation of company websites for various functions is considered and compared to the firms' experiences of both general and specifically IT skills shortages encountered in their staff. The impact of these shortages upon firms' objectives are also examined. There is some evidence that those firms with low proportions of sales through e-commerce are more likely to encounter IT skill shortages, but they are less likely to be substantially held back by these shortages if encountered. It is those with more basic websites who feel that a lack of adequately trained staff in general have held back their expansion. If skills shortages are continually encountered those firms seeking to use the Internet are likely to be unable to progress beyond the basic stages of producing an electronic brochure. Ultimately for many an opportunity to expand will be missed. The results indicate to policymakers a need to consider the training programmes available not only to SMEs, but to the population in general to ensure that a skills mismatch does not develop hindering the ability of UK SMEs to compete.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationN/A
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2010
    Event Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Conference 2010 - London
    Duration: 15 Nov 201018 Nov 2010


    Conference Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Conference 2010


    • it
    • skills
    • smes


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