SMEs need talent - Business Works
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SMEs need talent

Challenges for SMEs N ew figures show that almost a third of small businesses at start-up stage have difficulty finding suitably skilled staff. This is at a time when the statistics next week are expected to show another rise in unemployment.

Respondents in the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) 'Voice of Small Business' survey panel say that they find regulation requirements onerous (47%) and have difficulty securing finance (34%) at start-up. The barrier of finding suitably skilled staff (27%) is worrying, with unemployment at 2.62 million and youth unemployment more than a million and set to rise next week.

The Government has introduced a raft of new measures aimed at supporting entrepreneurs, however, the FSB has shown that employment intentions and business confidence have dropped.

"Challenges posed to entrepreneurs will always vary, but we know from our members that common issues at start-up stage include, finding suitably skilled staff, complex regulation and access to finance," said John Walker, FSB Chairman. "And coming up against these at the very beginning of their entrepreneurial career can prevent them from growing. With the private sector being relied on to drive economic recovery, these barriers need to be removed – budding entrepreneurs should be supported in setting-up in business and existing businesses should be encouraged to innovate, take on staff and grow."

The FSB and the All Pary Parliamentary Small Business Group (APP SBB) are launching an inquiry with Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, into entrepreneurship to see how these barriers can be removed. With 95% of private sector businesses employing less than 20 members of staff, the inquiry will look at how these firms can be encouraged to take on staff and how budding entrepreneurs can be supported in setting up their own business against a backdrop of uncertain economic times.

"This inquiry into entrepreneurship will cover a raft of issues and working with the Government, we hope that these issues can be put to bed once and for all," continued John.

"We hear from small businesses time-and-time again that they are finding it difficult to get staff with the skills necessary to run their businesses," said Brian Binley MP, Chairman of the APP SBG. "Small and medium sized businesses and entrepreneurs are expected to be driving economic growth in support of Britain’s recovery, but they are finding it difficult to get the right people to help them in that task. I am hopeful that this inquiry will go some way to addressing the challenges of rising youth unemployment and the skills crisis we have thanks to the legacy left by the previous government."

"I know that John Hayes, the Skills Minister, is working hard to bridge the skills gap which is especially important to the precision engineering companies in my own constituency of Northampton. However, his work is being hampered by the poor performance in our primary and secondary schools, especially with regard to literacy and numeracy and whilst Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, is pulling out all the stops, there is still a lot to do. Our review will be looking at ways of improving those basic skills as well as the more advanced skills required to meet industry’s needs."

The FSB is calling on the Government to:

  • Reinstate the graduate internship scheme to give graduates the opportunity to acquire the skills they need for starting and running a business;
  • Prioritise enterprise education by putting it in the statutory curriculum;
  • Take on the Independent Commission on Banking’s recommendations to create more competition in the banking sector;
  • Extend Work Trials to the first day someone signs on to Jobseekers Allowance to help create 46,000 more jobs; and
  • Reduce the flow of regulation and tackle the stock of existing regulations.

For more information, contact FSB at:

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