Small businesses see training in sales and marketing as critical for their growth, latest survey figures from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) show.

In its ‘Voice of Small Business’ survey panel of 1,700 small businesses, almost half (46%) said that sales, marketing and PR training for themselves would help their business to develop or grow. Just over a third (34%) said similar training for their employees would also have the same positive impact on the growth of their business.

Another third (32%) said they saw customer services and one fifth (20%) saw basic communication skills as integral to business growth.

At a time when small firms are really driving the economy forward into recovery, they need to be able to promote their businesses in new and foreign markets and use social media and new technology to advertise their services and products.

In a new report, ‘Raising the standards: an FSB skills survey’, the FSB argues that in order to be competitive, businesses need these skills to take advantage of new and emerging markets, and as a result, they need training to be made available and accessible so they can make the most of it.

Small businesses are more likely to take on low-skilled individuals than large businesses – previous research shows that 10 per cent of the employees in micro businesses have no qualifications, compared to 5.6 per cent in the largest organisations.

The research shows that small businesses are more satisfied with in-house, informal training that develops and gives staff the business skills they need to do the job, rather than recognised courses and qualifications.

The FSB is calling on the Government to help incentivise small businesses to take on more apprentices and graduate interns by co-funding harder to reach businesses, rather than bigger firms that have greater training budgets at their disposal.

John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“The Government’s reliance on the private sector to create jobs to pick up the shortfall in employment from the public sector is well-placed: small businesses will play a crucial role in the country’s growth. But for small firms to grow, they need to train staff in the skills that will impact on their bottom line. The Government has to step up and support small firms in leading the economy back into steady growth.