Much of Europe remains in recession and 59 per cent small and medium sized companies across the globe are either watching revenues remain static or decrease. In that context you would expect unemployment to be a serious issue.
While it is still a challenge, despite a few exceptions such as Spain where youth unemployment has hit 55 per cent, it seems jobs are being created or maintained. For example, the results from the latest Sage Business Index found in the UK the number of people out of work fell by 37,000 to 2.49 million in the three months to November 2012.
This is in no small part a result of the thousands of SMBs in Europe – which make up 99 per cent of the economy – keeping the job market buoyant. In fact, 82 per cent of businesses have maintained or grown their employee base. Over half (57 per cent) have seen staff levels stay the same and a quarter (25 per cent) have increased their number of employees. Just 15 per cent had laid people off over the six months to October 2012.
The top three countries that have reported most growth in employment are Malasia (40 per cent), Austria (39 per cent) and Brazil (38 per cent). Meanwhile, Spain (26 per cent), Portugal (21 per cent) and Ireland (19 per cent) have laid off most people off.
Globally, a third (33 per cent) of small and medium sized companies say that having a skilled workforce to recruit from is one of the most favourable aspects about their country as a place to do business. Interestingly, this rises in those countries that have experienced most economic woe including Ireland (63 per cent), Spain (42 per cent) and Portugal (39 per cent).
What is even more encouraging is that when asked what they plan to do in the next year, a fifth (20 per cent) of SMBs globally said they would recruit new employees. This rises to 40 per cent in Brazil, 33 per cent in Austria and 27 per cent in Germany. Just five per cent of Spanish, seven per cent of Portuguese and 14 per cent of French small and medium sized companies said they would recruit new employees in the coming year.
As 2013 gets fully underway, it looks like SMBs across the globe are boosting employment levels and keeping people in work. This is vitally important – from an economic and social point of view – and ensures skills can be retained in companies for the recovery.