Fast-growing firms, product strategies and skill development
This paper draws on matched data from the National Employers Skill Survey (NESS) and the Business Structure Database (BSD) to examine the impact of workforce skills and training on firm growth. Firm growth in both employment and sales is found to be significantly positively related to the deployment of skill-intensive product strategies. In seeking to meet their skill requirements, fast-growing firms are found to engage in substantial training of their employees as well as searching for skilled workers on the open market. This substantial investment in training both precedes rapid growth and persists during the growth period (in spite of the high opportunity costs of providing training during working time when sales are growing rapidly). The assets and capabilities that firms require in order to be able to grow fast appear to equip them well to deal with the skills challenges that are part and parcel of rapid expansion.