Forty per cent of small retail business managers do not take all their holiday - with many claiming this is due to a lack of adequately trained staff to cover their absence, research has revealed.

The survey by the Learning and Skills Council, also indicated 24% of small retailers believed their staff did not have the right skills for the job.

Some 44% said they were prepared to invest in training - but a third of retailers claimed they couldn't afford to do so. A fifth of respondents said they did not have time to research training options.

The survey was published to coincide with the launch of an advertising campaign to promote the Learning and Skills Council's Train to Gain service, which offers advice to businesses on how to improve their performances through training.

The initiative also offers businesses with fewer than 50 employees the opportunity to take up free training for staff equivalent to five GCSEs.

"Train to Gain is designed to tackle historic barriers to learning, such as cost and time," said Jaine Clarke, national director of Skills for Employers at the Learning and Skills Council.

"We want it to be as easy as possible for people to understand what help is available for them to get the skills needed to get on."