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UK – Hays chief executive hopes for a budget that will support SMEs and STEM education.

18 March 2014

Hays Chief Executive, Alistair Cox, has expressed his hope that today’s Budget will stimulate the UK’s optimism and aid long-term economic recovery; specifically through supporting SMEs and boosting STEM education.

Outlining his wishes in the Telegraph, Cox states that ‘while the Chancellor has already highlighted the need to boost UK exports, in order to maintain momentum he must support the country’s army of SMEs, address the skills shortage and invest in our education system.’

Mr Cox insists“SMEs remain the bedrock of the UK’s economy and continue to drive the recovery. SMEs make up 99.9 per cent of all new enterprises, and their success is crucial to job creation and economic development.”

“In order to support them, the Chancellor needs to introduce greater cuts to National Insurance contributions for employers. Further reducing this "tax on jobs" is one way to help businesses looking to invest in growing their workforces. Minimising the financial risks that SMEs take when hiring new staff will also create opportunities for thousands of people currently looking for employment.”

Echoing the sentiments of other business leaders, Cox adds that the Chancellor ‘ must urgently consider long-term threats to recovery, notably the pressing shortage of science, technology, engineering and maths skills (STEM) that is holding the UK back.”

“In the short-term the Government should consider refocusing the immigration regulations to attract international professionals with these much-needed skills. Skilled migrants are net contributors to the Treasury and fill roles that would otherwise remain vacant. Their work also often leads to the creation of more jobs for the local labour force.”

Businesses and the Government are urged to collaborate in order to address STEM skills shortages and increase the pool of ‘homegrown’ talent. Cox, encourages the Government, to “consider reviewing degree pricing structures to make science and engineering degrees more affordable.”

Cox concludes that “for the first time in years Britain’s economic position is genuinely encouraging. The positive market sentiment needs to be harnessed by a Budget that encourages growth, instils business confidence and supports SMEs. In the long-term, the Government must act decisively to redress the skills gap and ensure the UK’s workforce has the talent it needs to attract investment for years to come.

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