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MORE than two-fifths of small and medium-sized businesses in the south east believe they will need enhanced or increased digital capabilities in the next three years.

Of that number, 91 per cent are worried about how they will upskill, with many firms citing difficulties finding suitably skilled staff and the level of investment required as potential stumbling blocks.

Michael Cox, regional sales director for Close Brothers Invoice Finance in the south east, which conducted the research, said: ‘Our findings suggest that many local SMEs do not feel adequately equipped for the future and that many are concerned that finding staff with the appropriate skills will be a challenge.’

The figures come from the latest Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly survey that seeks to canvass the opinion of SME owners.