Scientific Opinion Poll: Small Business Owners Say Their Employees Need More Training and Credentialing

For Immediate Release: 
Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Small business owners say a lack of education, training and experience is one of the biggest challenges they face in hiring and employment; willing to address this problem themselves 

Washington, D.C.—A scientific opinion poll released today shows small businesses around the country believe lack of education, experience and training is one of the biggest challenges they face when it comes to hiring and employment, and they’re willing to act to ensure they have the skilled workers they need to run their businesses.

The online poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research on behalf of Small Business Majority, found that 29 percent of small business owners say their employees have insufficient credentials. As a result, these under-credentialed workers are not promoted, which can lead them to lose interest in their jobs. When asked about hiring new employees, 34 percent of small business owners say finding candidates with the right qualifications is difficult. 

“Small business owners have a tough time succeeding without access to well-trained, properly credentialed employees,” said John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO of Small Business Majority. “And such people are often in short supply. But as the results of this poll clearly show, many small business owners are using their resources to try to solve this problem because they know doing so is good for their employees and their business.”

Given this credentialing shortcoming, many businesses are taking matters into their own hands. The survey found nearly 4 in 10 (39 percent) small business owners already offer their employees opportunities for additional education, training, certification or credentialing outside their businesses. Small businesses with 10 or more employees are more likely to offer these opportunities, as 56 percent say they do so; outside the retail and food-service industries, 44 percent of small businesses provide such opportunities.

Additionally, 43 percent of entrepreneurs say they offer their employees chances to receive additional education, training, certification or credentialing within their businesses.

“After years of finding that employment candidates who looked great on paper often lacked the skills needed to succeed in my business, I started offering a training program,” said Ted Milner, owner of Executive Temps in Burbank, Calif. “These programs are critical to small businesses in the long run. When you hammer home a particular skill set, employees feel more confident in their work and have a better understanding of the job they need to do, which improves your bottom line.” 

A vast 81 percent of small business owners who offer credentialing opportunities to their employees say these programs are good for their bottom line. It should come as no surprise then that 71 percent of owners surveyed say they allow their employees to work flexible schedules in order to accommodate additional training. But that isn’t the only incentive some employers support in order to increase employee credentialing: 54 percent of small business owners say they’re willing to subsidize worker training themselves, while 67 percent say they’re willing to reward employees who gain new skills or certifications through pay increases or promotions.    

“Small businesses have a great deal to gain from efforts to improve access to training and education for employees,” said Jamie Merisotis, president & CEO of Lumina Foundation. “This report makes clear the lengths to which small business leaders are willing to go to improve their talent, and invest in their most valuable asset—their employees.”

The survey reflects an online poll of 500 small business owners. It has a margin of error of +/- 4.38 percent.

Support for this work is provided by Lumina Foundation. 

For the full poll report, please visit:

About Small Business Majority
Small Business Majority was founded and is run by small business owners to focus on solving the biggest problems facing small businesses today. Since 2005, we have actively engaged small business owners and policymakers in support of public policy solutions, and have delivered information and resources to entrepreneurs that promote small business growth and drive a strong economy. We regularly engage our network of 50,000 small business owners, along with a formal strategic partnership program of more than 150 business organizations, enabling us to reach more than 500,000 entrepreneurs. Our extensive scientific polling, focus groups and economic research help us educate and inform policymakers, the media and other stakeholders about key issues impacting small businesses and freelancers, including access to capital, taxes, healthcare, retirement, entrepreneurship and workforce development. Learn more about us on our website and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

About Lumina Foundation
Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. We envision a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. Our goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.

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