Is it really 'make or break'?

I read with interest this morning a story about how employers are facing a “make or break” moment as many will be forced into making job cuts if the economy does not pick up.

A survey of 1,000 employers by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that a third of private firms are keeping on more staff than they need to avoid losing skills.

However, close to two-thirds said they would have to make redundancies if economic growth does not pick up soon.

Gerwyn Davies, an advisor at the CIPD, said: “This is a make or break moment for employers – unless growth picks up many will find that they cannot hold on to some workers any longer.

“The tenacity with which employers are hanging on to skilled labour is a reflection of the high value they place on it and the damage they fear will be done to their businesses if they are forced to start making more redundancies.”

What do we think about this? OK, yes, we know things could be better.

We’re in recession for a start. The most recent government figures show between April and June, the output of the economy fell by 0.7 per cent, following a 0.3 per cent drop over the three months of the year.

The government is pursuing an austerity agenda and we all know about the debt crisis in Europe.

But here’s a few reasons I think we can see a glimmer of hope on the horizon

Unemployment has actually been falling

The labour market is actually on something of a sound footing, with unemployment falling throughout 2012.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that in the three months to May, unemployment fell to 2.58 million. In November last year, the number of people out of work was at 2.68 million.

So things are improving here. On Wednesday, I’ve heard the ONS will be releasing its latest market data, so we’ll get a clearer picture then (keep an eye out on my thoughts), but I think the currently robust employment landscape is a positive sign.

Other routes to staff & skills

Skills are the lifeblood of any business, no matter how small it is. A workforce brimming with talent, ideas and skills makes a company what it is.

While there are skills shortages in many industries – engineering and ICT are two I’m aware of – there is also lots being done to drive skills and get people into work.

Whether it’s work placements, work-based qualifications or government incentive schemes, there are a host of ways firms can harness skills and talent. They just need to pursue the avenues available.

Olympic legacy

Did you catch the London 2012 Closing Ceremony? Great wasn’t it? (Well, apart from Brian May and Jessie J – what was that all about?)

In fact, the whole event has been phenomenal. Team GB came third in the medal table with 29 golds, our best performance since way back in 1908.

There have been so many great moments – Jess Ennis winning decathlon gold and Mo Farah becoming the first British man to claim the Olympic double by adding the 5,000 metre gold to the 10,000 metre title to name just a few.

On a sporting level, then, the impact is obvious. But the Games have also done something else. Haven’t they helped unite us as a country, isn’t morale better, don’t we feel better?

How long the shine of the Olympics will last is uncertain – but I think there’s a case to argue we could see some business benefit from the Games. Its legacy will be seen and measured in different ways.

But I feel the Olympics could inspire people to do more than just take up sport – it could drive them to find work, to do that course they always wanted to do, to achieve something.

So maybe things aren’t as bad as they might seem. What do you think?