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Small businesses hesitate to hire school leavers

Employment legislation and regulation are a concern for small firms, 39% said rules around dismissal are burdensome

The British Chambers of Commerce has reported that small businesses are struggling to find school leavers and graduates with the necessary skills to help them grow.

In a recent survey of 2,000 companies with fewer than 10 employees, 55% of respondents said that they wanted to increase the number of staff they employed. However, more than half had trouble finding the right people to fill vacancies.

Asked whether a school leaver with A-levels would have the necessary skills, 47% said that they would be “fairly” or “very nervous” that they would not. Only 22% of firms surveyed said that they would be “very” or “fairly” confident. When asked the same question about university graduates, only a third of small firms were “very” or “fairly confident” that they would possess the necessary skills.

Adam Marshall, Director of Policy at the BCC, said: “Despite high levels of unemployment, many micro firms are frustrated by the quality of applicants for vacant roles. There is a real mismatch between business needs and local skills supply, with many businesses unable to find school leavers or even graduates with the right mix of skills.”

The lack of skilled recruits was not the only barrier to growth for micro-businesses, the BCC warned. The survey also pointed to employment legislation and regulation as a concern for small firms. 39% of respondents said that the rules around dismissal were “extremely” or “fairly” burdensome. Less than 40% said that they felt well informed about changes to employment legislation.

Micro-businesses already employ 20.2 % of private sector employees, but the BCC believes that this number could be far higher with suitable changes to employment legislation. Recommendations included targeted exemptions for micro businesses from future laws surrounding recruitment and dismissals. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds