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Finding skilled workers no.1 problem for UK start-ups

Difficulties obtaining finance and a general skills shortage risk undermining Britain’s "revolution" in start-up businesses, the Institute of Directors (IoD) warned.

Start up business

The problems were highlighted in the first ever survey of the IoD 99 network – a group of more than 650 entrepreneurs under the age of 35, running businesses in every part of the UK and in every sector of the economy.

Some 42 per cent of the entrepreneurs said they experienced difficulty hiring people with the right skills, while 39 per cent reported difficulty accessing finance, with more than half saying money from family members had been instrumental in getting their business off the ground.

The IoD is calling on the government to open up the 'equity economy' to make it easier for savers to invest in young companies and is warning politicians against imposing arbitrary restrictions on the UK immigration system, which will make it harder for growing firms to bring in skilled workers from around the world.

Jimmy McLoughlin, deputy head of policy at the IoD, said, "The start-up revolution has taken hold in Britain like nowhere else in Europe. With so many young, exciting and cutting-edge businesses having popped up in recent years, it is vital to harness their potential and create the next raft of world-leading companies.

"Finding people with the right skills, and tapping into the right mix of finance will be the biggest factors in achieving scale-up success. For start-ups, overcoming these obstacles can be the difference between success and failure.

"It is a worry, therefore, that so many start-ups struggle to hire skilled employees. The push to teach children digital skills, like programming, at school is part of the long-term solution, but we must remember that start-ups face skills shortages now. Therefore, it is crucial that Britain's immigration system is as open and easy to navigate as possible."

Alex Mitchell, chair of the IoD 99 network, added, "More and more young people are growing up with dreams of being an entrepreneur, with millions rejecting the idea of a nine-to-five job in favour of the freedom, flexibility and control of running their own business.

"Little can compare to the feeling of taking an idea to market and building a successful company. With so many support schemes like the IoD 99 around the country, it has arguably never been easier to go it on your own.

"Interestingly, most entrepreneurs were employed when they launched their own enterprise, demonstrating the commitment and dedication it takes to build a successful company, often while working full-time.

"Young entrepreneurs also said they were motivated more by the vision of building a successful business, being their own boss and having a social impact than financial reward. This is a testament to the vibrancy and diversity of the UK's start-up scene."

While the survey rated difficulty hiring skilled employees was ranked as the top barrier to growth, followed by trouble accessing finance, other problems cited by the young entrepreneurs included the high cost of finance, and business and personal taxes.

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Aussie workers may be booted from the UK

Laws restricting skilled workers may be tightened further next year and may cut short employment for thousands of Australians.

Start up business

New regulations on skilled workers travelling to the United Kingdom could see thousands of Australians forced to leave the country.

According to a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade report obtained by News Corp, visa rules to be implemented next year would further tighten already strict requirements.

The Government previously indicated the “unique” bond between Australia and the UK would suffer “structural damage” from what it described as “discriminatory” immigration policies.

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“The UK’s visa changes are making this country a less welcoming destination for Australians,” the Australian High Commission signed report stated.

“This potentially harms the UK’s image and reputation in Australia, and might even in the long term undermine the unique Australia-UK bond.”

There were 100 Australian businesses operating in the UK surveyed for the report.

More than half predicted the visa changes would impact on planned investment in the country, while two-thirds said it would “significantly impact their ability and willingness to recruit Australians”.

The upcoming changes would be extended to include intra-company transfers, spouses right to work and see levies implemented.

Last year, the Australian and UK governments sought a compromise on skilled worker restrictions that limited people travelling from countries outside the European Union for employment.

The restrictions were imposed in 2011 as a response to increased worker movement between EU nations, with some skilled worker visas closed and a cap of 20,000 positions for residents of countries outside the EU.

There was a more than 50 per cent drop in Aussie expat workers after the changes were implemented.

The Australian Government opposed the move, and sent a two-page document to UK authorities last month about the “significantly” great impact the proposed changes could have.

“[It has] the potential to adversely affect the commercial interests of both countries’ business and investors and consequently the economic interests of both Australia and the UK,” a letter signed by Australian High Commission Alexander Downer reads.

“We are also concerned it may have a longer term impact on the broader Australia-UK bilateral relationship.

“Recent history suggests we can be reasonably sure the coming changes will significantly affect Australians.”

CBI: UK immigration restrictions make recruiting skilled staff harder
 

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) at a CBI debate in Leeds, West Yorkshire has warned that UK immigration restrictions will make it increasingly difficult for Yorkshire employers to recruit skilled staff. Business leaders echoed the CBI's warning, stating that stricter UK immigration controls – as well as possible changes making immigration from the European Union more difficult - will make recruiting skilled workers harder.

While hosting an EU debate in Leeds on 30 November 2015, the CBI said 'employers in Yorkshire face tough challenges to recruit people with the required skills.' A CBI survey found that recruiting graduates with engineering, maths, science and technology backgrounds is a problem for almost three quarters of Yorkshire businesses.

Additionally, the survey revealed that 25 per cent of the Yorkshire businesses were unable to recruit graduates in the above skill areas. CBI regional director, Lucy Thornycroft, said: "It's a huge issue now and it's only going to get worse in the future." Thornycroft went on to add that restricting freedom of movement would impact Yorkshire's global competitiveness.

Net migration

UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, has made it clear to the European Council that he wants a reduction in the number of people entering Britain from the EU. He says that the UK's net migration of 300,000 people per year is 'not sustainable.'

Thornycroft said: "We've voiced our concerns over a potential cap that the Government is pursuing. The issue is that a UK immigration cap on skilled workers would prevent companies from being able to attract or access skilled workers that they require from across Europe. Construction is just one common example of an industry sector lacking the right skills."

Aside from UK immigration controls restricting the movement of skilled workers, Thornycroft highlighted the significance of international students and the role they play in making Yorkshire's further education colleges and universities places that 'create a culture of innovation.' "Restricting them would be harmful to the education sector," she said.

The EU debate

The EU debate was attended by delegates of companies from across the construction, manufacturing, professional service, retail university and waste management sectors, and took place at KPMG's new office facilities in Leeds.

Thornycroft said: "Every attendee at the debate was very clear, from a business perspective, that they support the notion of remaining in Europe. However, many would like to see reform in certain areas."

Some CBI members appeared to recognise the benefits of common EU regulations, in terms of making it easier to do business throughout Europe; some also had concerns about the reach of the EU's powers, especially when it targets domestic areas.

Thornycroft said: "Companies can identify with the benefits of EU membership from an economic perspective i.e. creating jobs, growth and expansion plus the fact it simplifies the process of doing business. However, there is an element of frustration concerning regulatory measures coming out of the EU."

"Such regulations have significant financial implications and this is something that needs to be tackled if doing business easily is going to remain. The top priority of business leaders is to see the EU reach global trade agreements to boost jobs and growth, primarily the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)," she added.

Thornycroft's believes a TTIP agreement would help remove barriers to doing business with the US, which is considered Britain's biggest inward investor, plus one of the UK's largest export markets for manufacturers and service sector companies.

Written by Daniel Waldron and Sanwar Ali Edited by Sanwar Ali

Australia needs 100,000 ICT skilled professionals in next few years

by Ray Clancy
in Jobs in Australia
 
Start up business

Australia is facing a serious shortage of skilled ICT professionals and is particularly interested in recruiting more women into the industry as well as encouraging more girls to study the subject.

Overseas skilled professionals have long regarded Australia as a source of job opportunities and a new report reveals just how important it is to encourage more women into the sector.

Women ICTThe report by the Australian Computer Society (ACS) shows that, at a time when Australia is facing a serious shortage of skilled ICT professionals, women represent only 28% of the ICT workforce compared to 43% in the wider professional workforce.

The report also says that Australia needs 100,000 additional ICT people by the end of the decade.

Assistant Minister for Science, Karen Andrews, said the Government recognised the importance of developing the talents of all Australians, including women, to ensure the country remained competitive.

“The ICT sector is particularly crucial because it underpins everything we do at work, school, university, at home and in public spaces. It gives our industries the tools to operate and prosper in the digital economy, the single greatest driver of innovation, competitiveness and growth,” said Andrews.

The ACS report, The Promise of Diversity – Gender Equality in the ICT Profession, says that achieving gender diversity would require greater participation by girls and women in ICT in schools, the vocational and higher education sector and in the workforce.

The Report examines the entire life cycle of female participation in ICT. It focusses on three key areas that must be addressed if we are to achieve greater gender equity in ICT. These areas are female participation in the workforce and the school education sector and encouraging women into the vocational and higher education sectors.

The report notes that addressing the barriers will require a mix of short and long term initiatives, as well as genuine commitment by employers, educators and governments to tackling the issues.

The ACS argues there needs to be a fundamental and urgent change to the cultural mind set and attitudes to women in the workforce. This requires genuine, committed, outcome focused leadership.

The ACS recommends initiatives aimed at improving the self-confidence of girls in their own abilities in maths and science, creating a school environment which actively encourages girls to pursue a digital career, introducing a mandatory Digital Technologies Curriculum, and developing a marketing programme aimed at changing perceptions of what a digital career can offer.

“It’s clear that, in Australia, women are significantly underrepresented in the critical ICT profession. We must urgently address the ongoing gender imbalance in the workforce. If we get it right there will be a substantial economic dividend for our nation,” said ACS President, Brenda Aynsley.

“We need to market far better to young female students. This must include providing them with accurate and contemporary advice on the jobs of the future and the importance of digital skills in that future,” Aynsley continued. “We also need the ICT profession to work closely with teachers, parents and career advisors, the key influencers of student career choices. And we need to encourage passionate, successful ICT female role models to be ambassadors for our profession and to inspire our next generation of ICT female professionals.

“We are committed to supporting the expansion and development of the ICT sector and ICT capability as the platform for the digital economy. It’s not simply about gender equality. It’s about ensuring all have the capability and the opportunity to contribute to the nation’s future, to realise their potential and to enjoy fulfilling careers.”

UK expats are among the highest migrant earners in Australia

by Ray Clancy

 
Start up business

Earnings of expats in Australia depend on which visa stream they have used, the country of their birth, their gender and the number of jobs they do, new data shows.

The country has a diverse range of migrants but in 2010/2011, the most recent figures available, skilled workers were most likely to be born in the United Kingdom, India and China, with almost half, 49%, coming from these countries.

Migrants from the United Kingdom reported the most income with $10 billion, followed by Indian born migrant taxpayers with $6.5 billion, according to the data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Skilled migrant taxpayers contributed $32 billion, or 72% of the total $45 billion in migrant income in 2010/2011, the figures also show.

“This is the second release of experimental data on migrants’ personal income. Results again show some distinct differences influenced by visa stream, number of jobs held, country of birth and gender,” said Jenny Dobak from the ABS.

A case study on migrants born in China showed that they received $3.3 billion in total income, of which $3 billion was employee income. Some 70% of Chinese born migrant taxpayers who reported employee income were in the skilled stream.

Another case study showed that migrants who held more than one job with a skilled or family visa recorded a decrease in their median employee income whilst those on humanitarian and provisional visas who held more than one job recorded an increase in median employee income.

About two thirds of migrant taxpayers held a skilled visa, with most aged between 25 and 44 years old.

The also data showed that skilled migrant taxpayers generated 65%, or $1.5 billion, of total Own unincorporated business income, $788.9 million in investment income, or 62% of the total, and 35% were mainly employed as professionals with 11% as managers.

Gender, employment status, industry of employment and job history were significant factors influencing the level of income of migrants. Median employee incomes for skilled males exceeded skilled females across all age groups.

Skilled males aged 35 to 44 years had the highest median skilled employee income at $71,144, while skilled female median employee income plateaus at just under $43,000 for each 10-year age grouping between 25 to 54 years before dropping to $34,247 for those over 55 years of age. The highest median employee income for skilled females was $42,952 for those aged 35 to 44 years.

The Australian Government’s skilled migration programme targets highly skilled migrants who use their skills and attributes to contribute directly to Australia’s economic, demographic and social wellbeing.

The Skilled stream allows for the entry of employer sponsored workers as well as those who qualify independently. Skilled migrants are generally well educated and have relatively high levels of English proficiency, even when emigrating from countries where English is a second language. Proficiency in English can also be an important enabler to gaining employment in the labour market.