What do employers want from a new recruit?

Our employment and skills study also revealed 63 per cent of employers rate a positive attitude to work as the key requirement, with around half noting the importance of basic skills. This is why we celebrated the Chancellor’s Spending Review in June which saw more money being made available to fund another 20 Studio schools across the country.

These are special schools, usually set up within existing schools, where the focus is very much on training youngsters the kind of work ethic they will need when they make the quite formidable jump from education to full time employment. Pupils can expect a 9 to 5 approach at studio schools for starters.

The studio school project is actually already underway in various locations across the country, and a number more are being readied for opening in the next academic year starting September. We are committed to these institutions and have backed a school local to our Cheshire HQ which learned of funding in March. Many of our members in the North West have pledged to help too, and would like to get involved. They, like us, see this as an ideal opportunity to improve the quality of the UK workforce.

And we know this is a problem that needs addressing. Time after time, research just like ours identifies a lack of employment-ready youngsters as a barrier to business. Above all else, employers need, but often can’t find, youngsters ready to hit the ground running – starting with a positive work ethic. That is youngsters who want to go out to work, climb the ladder, and succeed.

While it’s all well and good that we train our young pupils for the workplace, many of them will rightly be wondering whether there will be any actual jobs to go to. What’s the point of learning new skills if you’ve no where to put them into practice? While there’s been a glut of good news around the economy recently, it’s a valid concern, and one which our research also shines a light on.

For our survey also polled respondents about the likelihood of them recruiting in the near future, and the results make for grim reading. A healthy number indicated they are waiting for two things: employment costs to come down, and their profit margins to go up before bolstering staff numbers. In fact, almost one in three described the former point as ‘crucial’ before they would recruit, and 25 per cent for the latter.

We think this data could suggests gloomy news for employment figures over the summer, which could well stagnate into 2014 as employers.

While the Employment Allowance announcement in the Budget was received positively by small businesses, this research indicates many firms are holding back on recruitment until after next April when the new measures take effect and NI costs drop. It doesn’t take much imagination to come up with this conclusion.

We can also see that a significant number of employers are waiting for a marked change in profit levels – and therefore significant economic growth – before they consider taking on more staff. What happens this summer is likely to be have an important bearing on job figures.

There is clearly a pressing need for government to do more to reduce the cost of employment to incentivise SMEs to employ. We said after the Budget the Employment Allowance was a great move, but that it was too far off with the economy still in the doldrums. Our new research seems to suggest we had a point.