The economy has stabilised and more than 40% of all small businesses are planning to recruit more staff, according to the Small Firms Association (SFA) Autumn employment survey.
The director of the Small Firms Association, Patricia Callan, said that 42% of firms plan to increase their employment levels, with 7% of those set to significantly increase job numbers, and 43% set to maintain employment levels. Only 14% of small firms plan to let staff go.
The SFA’s survey of 628 members found that a lack of business was the biggest obstacle to job creation; 46% of respondents cited not enough business as the biggest barrier to job creation; 33% of respondents said that cost was the biggest obstacle; while employment law (10%) and lack of skills (9%) were other factors. Only 3% of respondents cited unrealistic salary expectations from candidates as a barrier to creating jobs.
Ms Callan said the Government needed to restore consumer confidence if employment levels were to rise.
“Whilst it is commonly stated that increasing employment levels is the Government’s number one priority and developments such as an annual ‘Action Plan for Jobs’ and the ‘Pathways to Work’ initiative are welcome and should be delivered, the fact remains that businesspeople are the ultimate job-creators and their decision on whether to keep someone in a job or to hire someone rests on the demand for their product or service, and secondly on whether they can afford to do so.
“We now need the Government to introduce firm policies to restore consumer confidence and to reduce the cost of employment for employers,” she said.
Ms Callan said that the Department of Social Protection’s plans would make it more expensive for employers to hire workers.
“The Department of Social Protection’s current proposals to introduce mandatory sick pay, or increase employer’s PRSI, and indeed to introduce mandatory pension provision on employers will also dramatically increase the cost of employment to small businesses and will see many more businesses stop hiring or indeed close as a direct result.
“A full cost-impact analysis on small business should be undertaken immediately by the Government of such proposals, which would see them abandoned,” she said.
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