The majority of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that operate in-house research centers are suffering from a shortage of expert manpower, a survey by a think tank showed Sunday, highlighting the difficulties facing local businesses.
According to the findings by the Korea Small Business Institute (KOSBI), 59.3 percent of SMEs said they were understaffed in terms of research and development (R&D) personnel. The same poll said 35.3 percent had adequate numbers of people to carry out research and 5.5 percent had sufficient numbers.
The findings were based on responses by 400 SMEs from Jan. 15-24.
The institute for the sustainable development of SMEs said of the companies that responded to the survey, 45 percent claimed they experienced difficulties hiring the R&D personnel they needed in the past three years.
KOSBI said "innovation" oriented firms had a harder time finding skilled workers, compared with more traditional companies, with younger companies having the hardest time recruiting talented researchers that can bolster their overall competitiveness.
In addition, 44.5 percent of companies predicted that it may become harder to find R&D personnel in the next five years, with only 22.5 percent saying things may improve.
"With the advent of the ongoing fourth industrial revolution, there is considerable demand for skilled researchers, although it can become more difficult for smaller companies to find the people they really need," said KOSBI researcher Roh Mean-sun. The expert said it is imperative for SMEs to not only do more to attract R&D personnel, but they need to devise ways to hold onto them.
The fourth revolution is characterized by the merging of various technologies in such areas as digital, biological and artificial intelligence. Such cooperation can create new business opportunities that can generate growth for companies and the general economy going forward. (Yonhap)