BRITISH firms across all sectors are worried about skills shortages that could stop their business from growing, according to BBC Breakfast business presenter Steph McGovern.
Ms McGovern made the comments at the Yorkshire Fastest 50 awards 2015, which honoured and celebrated the region’s fastest growing companies.
Speaking to an audience of more than 200 people in Leeds, Ms McGovern urged local firms to get involved with local schools to ensure pupils were ready for the world of work.
“I’ve visited something like 400 businesses over the last couple of years, and the thing that they talk to me most about is skills,” she said. “It was growth a year ago, and where that was going to come from, but now it’s the skills gap; and it’s across all sectors.”
Ms McGovern, who acts as a school governor, said she had been shocked to encounter a group of 16-year-olds who didn’t know how to shake hands.
Although she was sure that this didn’t apply to most young people, Ms McGovern said it showed that some youngsters still didn’t know how to interact in a business setting.
She told the audience at Aspire in Leeds: “They can be a whizz online, but they might not know how to write an application or show you that they have the skills you need.
“That’s something that has got industry worried a lot at the moment.. if you’re in business it’s really good to have any connections you can with schools.”
She said businesses could bring inspirational people into the classroom.
“That can make a big difference,’’ she said. “What we might see is businesses lobbying more for there to be more room in the curriculum for things like that.”
She added: “There’s lot of great businesses here, and there’s lots of great companies to celebrate.”
The Yorkshire Fastest 50 Awards are organised by law firm Ward Hadaway and supported by The Yorkshire Post.
Philip Jordan, a partner at Ward Hadaway and president of Leeds Law Society, said: “This is the fifth time that we’ve held these awards and I’m delighted to say that it’s become a premier fixture in the Yorkshire business calendar,”
Greg Wright, The Yorkshire Post’s deputy business editor, said: “All the businesses here can be very proud.”
The overall winner for fastest growing firm was the York-based property developer S Harrison Group, which also triumphed in the fastest growing large business category.
During her speech Ms McGovern also raised concerns about train journey times between Northern cities.
She said: “It is shocking that it takes me longer on a train from Manchester to Newcastle than it takes from Manchester to London.”
However, she stressed that there was a lot of growth potential in Yorkshire.
The fastest growing small business award was presented to the Wakefield-based computerised maintenance management systems firm, Softsols Group, and the fastest growing medium-sized business was the Bradford-based logistics firm, Advanced Forwarding.