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SMEs must tap into benefits of older workers

August 2014
Nine out of ten small medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) understand the value older workers bring to their business, with the majority (61%), recruiting a mixture of ages, according to a survey of by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development with the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives. 
‘Age diversity in SMEs: reaping the benefits’ surveyed nearly 600 senior decision makers in UK SMEs and found that, on the whole, they recognise the skills that workers of different ages bring. The benefits include improved knowledge sharing (56%), better problem solving (34%) and enhanced customer service (21%). 
Yet, despite the default retirement age being abolished in 2011, and an increasingly age-diverse labour market, employees over the age of 65 represent just 5% the UK’s SME workforce. Some 60% of the SMEs surveyed have never employed someone over the age of 65. 
SMEs do believe that training older employees is a good return on their investment. Yet, 34% provide no support for the extension of working life and almost half (46%) report that their organisation has no activities in place to ensure access to enough skilled and diverse people of all ages.
Dianah Worman, public policy advisor at CIPD, said: “Our research into age diversity in SMEs paints a largely positive picture.  It’s good to see that small businesses, just like their large business peers, clearly see the benefits of an age diverse workforce.  Some are working hard to cater for different workers of different ages but, on the whole, we found that small businesses have a lot more to do if they are to tap into the full range of benefits an age diverse workforce can bring.”

Call for release of admin burden on SMEs

August 2014
The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has called for a relaxation of PAYE reporting requirements for SMEs. “We suggest that government allows small businesses to report employees’ pay monthly to HMRC, rather than on or before each payment is made, so as to reduce the administrative burden,” says the Institute’s Employment Taxes Sub-Committee Chairman Colin Ben-Nathan. “This approach would certainly chime with a key theme of the proposed Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, which the government has said is designed to ensure red tape that affects small business is frequently reviewed to ensure that regulations are either cut or otherwise remain justified.”
The CIOT’s call was made as part of its submission to a review of the competitiveness of UK tax administration conducted by the government’s Office of Tax Simplification, who are currently gathering input from businesses, taxpayers and their advisers. Mr Ben-Nathan added, “Last year the CIOT polled its members to gather views on the effect Pay-As-You-Earn Real Time Information (RTI) is having on employers and the challenges they face in having to report immediately to HMRC on pay paid to their employees. Over half of the respondents replied that small employers should be allowed to opt out of RTI reporting, saying their clients found it too prescriptive, time-consuming and even unworkable.”
“The CIOT fully agrees that making the UK tax system more competitive and easier to administer will increase businesses’ certainty and confidence in managing their obligations, and reduce time and money spent on administration,” he says. “This in turn will boost the UK’s economic growth.”

Entrepreneurs key to boosting youth employment

August 2014
SMEs have the potential to create 10 million youth jobs across the G20 countries, according to new research by management consultancy Accenture. The study, The Promise Of Digital Entrepreneurs, analysed the opinions of over 1,000 entrepreneurs in an effort to identify the barriers that currently limit their potential to create jobs and grow their national economies. While 85% of entrepreneurs surveyed believed they play a vital role in creating jobs, 74% said they planned to recruit young talent in 2014. However, of the barriers that prevented them from making those new hires, 62% cited the lack of availability of appropriate skills and 54% lack of incentives. Another 54% cited access to finance. Other barriers included scaling and sustaining innovation and growing internationally.
“While there is no simple solution to the challenge of youth unemployment, this study provides evidence to suggest that entrepreneurs can play a vital role in reinvigorating job creation,” says Bruno Berthon, Managing Director for Cross-Industry Strategy within Accenture Strategy. “Digital technologies are enabling and accelerating entrepreneurship, and in many cases, the legislative and regulatory environment is struggling to keep pace. Countries that are able to foster and support entrepreneurs will be better positioned to create jobs, restore growth and enhance the overall quality of life for their citizens.” Mr Berthon also believes that companies seeking growth would do well to focus on innovation and overseas trade. “This underscores the importance of policies that support risk and enterprise as a route to sustainable economic recovery.”

UK manufacturing on brink of ‘industrial renaissance’

July 2014
The British manufacturing sector has strengthened its influence in Brussels now that Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of the UK manufacturers’ organization the EEF, has been appointed Chairman of the Council of European Employers of the Metal, Engineering and Technology-based Industries (CEEMET). As Chairman, Mr Scuoler will drive policies to boost manufacturing across Europe and will represent the views of over 200,000 companies, employing approximately 35 million people. His appointment will provide further momentum to the current growth of UK manufacturing, as the sector rapidly regains ground lost during the recession.
Mr Scuoler has already launched CEEMAT’s European Roadmap at a reception in Strasbourg, in which he prioritized growth and job-creation. Specific reform proposals included the need to:
  • Encourage practical policies, active leadership and cooperation among all stakeholders to ensure all EU policies that impact manufacturing are aligned to the EU’s target of raising manufacturing’s contribution to EU GDP to 20% by 2020.
  • Creating greater access to a skills-focused labour market in order to improve R&D, innovation and job-creation.
  • Improve cooperation between policymakers and industry.
“Manufacturing is critical to the future of the European economy, providing the economic growth and high-skill jobs we urgently need,” he says. “But, we cannot go on doing the same things over and over again and expect to see a different result. The recent elections have sent an uncomfortable message to European policymakers that must now be heeded as a matter of urgency.” He adds. “There is a growing consensus in favour of an industrial renaissance and increased competitiveness across Europe. I hope to support and contribute to future policies that will help deliver this vision.”

SME owners work through the night

July 2014
It probably won’t come as much of a surprise that SME owners are working long hours in order to make a success of their businesses. But research from the information portal, Check Business, highlights the extent of overtime that SME owners work. 
The study involved analysing the work patterns of over 100,000 SMEs, and while the typical nine-to-five working day is taken up with running the business, the study revealed that evenings and weekends are used for research, reflection and preparation, as well as keeping track of orders and corresponding with customers and contacts in different time zones. 
Startups, in particular, have few resources available to employ extra staff or outsource finance or IT and this means owners essentially have to don a number of caps in order to keep the business ticking over in its early stages of growth.