Quarter of small firms say they plan to increase staff this year
Staff levels in the small business sector have finally begun to stabilise, according to a new survey.
The latest Jobs Sentiment Survey from the Small Firms Association shows that almost a quarter of companies surveyed plan on increasing their staff numbers this year, while some 16pc of respondents will be recruiting for permanent jobs over the next three months, up 2pc on the last survey.
More than half of companies that increased staff last year said they expected to add more employees in 2011. Lay-off rates have slowed down, as has the drive to reduce staff working hours.
Despite the uptick, the survey points out that 18pc of firms will still cut staff this year.
SFA director Avine McNally warned that SMEs were still facing great difficulties, and were struggling to regain competitiveness.
"Job losses in some sectors such as wholesale and retail appear to be stabilising, (while) manufacturing is starting to show signs of recovery. The employment gains will be fairly modest (however).
"The survey highlights that firms will implement further workplace initiatives to ensure greater job retention, including product development, process improvement and increased workforce flexibility. These actions show the adaptability and commitment of employees in small firms to work with management to ensure jobs are retained." said Ms McNally.
The SFA welcomed the commitment by the Government to support job creation and the commitment to introduce no new taxes on employment, but added that the focus must be on cutting business costs.
"Small firms demonstrated a rapid capacity to generate employment during the last growth phase and will generate employment again throughout the nation given the right conditions.
"One of the immediate actions must be to reduce business costs, which will allow firms to compete and survive," said Ms McNally.