Last week, Vince Cable announced a series of measures that aim to support the UK’s Professional & Business Services (PBS) sector. Recruitment is identified as an important part of the sector, with “employment activities” accounting for 14% of total output in the PBS sector.
The PBS strategy promises to prioritise three key areas to strengthen the sector:
1. The business environment
• Alongside an enduring commitment to create a level playing field for taxation and regulation, and more support for flexible working, government will introduce a £30m ‘Growth Voucher’ scheme next year. This aims to help small and micro businesses in England to access professional advice services. Government will then evaluate the types of professional services that best support SME growth.
2. Access to highly skilled labour:
• It is expected that over 600,000 new jobs will be created in the PBS sector by 2020. To ensure the industry has access to a sufficient talent pool, BIS commits to trebling the number of higher apprenticeships available in the sector in next five years.
• They will also work with the Home Office on “fast and efficient” visa controls.
• One key development is the proposal to create a PBS Education Engagement Taskforce to increase engagement between employers and young people.
3. Developing overseas markets and attracting new investment:
• The rate of development in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries and beyond represents a significant opportunity. To capitalise on this, the strategy will work closely with UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) to ensure UK-based PBS firms are participating fully in trade missions and other initiatives.
• Government also intends to work with the EU Commission to highlight any barriers to further expansion within the European Single Market and to develop specific trade agreements with priority countries, including India, Canada, Japan and Vietnam.
The strategy represents some key opportunities for REC members:
• The Growth Vouchers scheme represents an exciting opportunity for recruiters as it could be a real opportunity for small businesses to access much needed funding and emphasise the importance of high quality recruitment to a business’ growth strategy.
• REC has already demonstrated how access to skilled labour is one of the single most important inhibitors to future economic development. It is essential, therefore, that we get involved in the suggested Education Engagement Taskforce and we will look at how to tie this in with members’ commitment to our own Youth Employment Taskforce and Charter.
• Where you have specific examples of practice that is inhibiting growth or fair competition, whether this is created by the current taxation and regulation systems, or by international trade agreements, we would be happy to raise these with government on your behalf.