According to a study carried out by Hitachi Capital Business Finance, the majority of leaders of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across the UK have plans to brush up their skillsets in 2020.

The new research showed that 69% of SME leaders were planning on attending courses next year, with digital skills topping the list of development areas. Hitachi also found that confidence within the small business community is gradually increasing, with four in five (81%) SMEs planning to invest in the new year to grow their business, while 36% expected their businesses to grow in the next three months. 

Of the business leaders with plans for training, 38% said they would like more skills to improve their knowledge of software, the internet and social media. This figure increased to 51% amongst those in the retail sector – a sign of the direction of travel as shops increasingly move away from the high street towards online. Marketing and PR was also a big consideration for around a quarter (28%) of business leaders. 

The proportion of business leaders under 35 with plans for training in the new year was nine in 10 (88%), with the environment a massive consideration for this group – 29% said they wanted training on how to make their businesses more environmentally friendly, compared with a national average of 15%.

Gavin Wraith-Carter, managing director at Hitachi Capital Business Finance, said: “Standing still in a business world as competitive as today for most leaders is simply not an option. Businesses will all have specific challenges to address as the market shifts and technology evolves. The best way of staying a step ahead of competitors is to invest in skills across the business. 

“Set against a period of unprecedented Brexit uncertainty, the fact that four in five businesses are planning to put money in to grow their business in the new year is a further indication of their resilience and determination to succeed.”