Export growth hampered by skill shortages

'Major shortfalls' in foreign language skills and commercial knowledge are holding many businesses back from successful exporting and growth potential, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has claimed. 

According to the BCC, a lack of general 'know-how' in taking a product or product overseas is also preventing businesses taking their first steps into exporting.

The BCC's findings show:

  • Gaps in finance, marketing, sales and negotiation skills
  • Difficulties in sourcing market information, particularly for manufacturers, micro and smaller firms
  • Manufacturing, IT and media firms cite the largest skills shortages
  • 58 per cent of non-exporters believe they do not have a suitable product or service to export.

However, the survey of more than 4,500 BCC members found that, despite this apparent lack of skill and know-how, the number of businesses moving into export markets has increased.

"Rebalancing the economy towards net exports is vital for the success of the UK economy," said the BCC.

It is calling for more support for firms looking to trade overseas and is also encouraging the take-up of foreign languages in UK schools and workplaces.