The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) is calling on the Chancellor to use Wednesday’s Budget to deliver practical measures in three areas to stimulate growth and jobs.
Skills shortages: the REC’s research shows recruiters are already finding it hard to supply IT experts and engineers to fill current demand. Government investment in infrastructure will need to be mirrored by a systematic focus on skills to prevent these skills shortages becoming a barrier to further growth. The REC is calling for:
– investment in higher level apprenticeships to meet the increasing demand for skilled technicians and increased ownership of training investment by employers so the matching of demand and supply of skills is more effective
– investment in training to support older workers to transition into these growth sectors
– more help for young jobseekers through a National Insurance ‘holiday’ to encourage small and medium sized employers to take on young unemployed people, better careers advice and a concerted effort to drive the take-up of the Youth Contract.
Protecting the flexible labour market: the UK’s flexible jobs market has been critical to maintaining employment levels and avoiding the high rates of joblessness seen in other countries. The REC is calling on the Chancellor to:
– deliver clarity and robust enforcement around regulation of travel and subsistence schemes and offshore pay roll companies so that all employment businesses play by the same rules
– ensure that any changes to the definition of self-employment do not penalise or create uncertainty for the economy’s hundreds of thousands of contractors and interim managers and that the perception that those working as self-employed contractors in the public sector are somehow ‘tax dodgers’ is challenged.
Support for SMEs: the REC is also highlighting the need for improved access to finance for small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in order to sustain job creation and is asking the Chancellor to:
– focus any further reductions in corporation tax on SMEs
– enforce targets for SMEs in relation to public sector contracts
– implement the Heseltine Review’s recommendations to improve SMEs’ access to funding through Local Enterprise Partnerships, peer to peer lending and the Funding for Lending scheme.
REC chief executive Kevin Green says:
“The Chancellor has got to do something about jobs and growth or the gravity defying rise in employment we’ve seen over the past year won’t be sustainable.
“The Budget is likely to focus on investment in infrastructure, however the Chancellor will find his ambitions thwarted by a lack of skilled workers to deliver big new construction projects if there isn’t an urgent focus on boosting candidate availability in key growth sectors like engineering and IT. An investment in those who currently don’t have the right skills for available jobs, be they young or old, needs urgent action not just lip service.
“Most recruiters are SMEs and the vast majority of new jobs will be created by small businesses they are the backbone of our economy. It’s vital that the government supports entrepreneurs, the self-employed and small business owners to get access to funding, a fair share of public sector contracts and the most benefit of any reduction in corporation tax.”