Recent calls by the social sector suggesting that businesses require a change of attitude and increased flexibility when considering their employment needs, do nothing more than create division and incredulity from small and medium business owners.

Robert Mallett, Executive Office of the Tasmanian Small Business Council said that ‘comments like these demonstrate that the social sector, which primarily exist on government grants and donations have little real idea of the pressures of being in business’.

‘Margins which have been squeezed by online traders, increases in statutory fees and charges, constant changes to modern awards increasing employment unfriendly terms and conditions all combine to require employees to be able to provide a valuable return on investment’, said Mr Mallett.  ‘This is not the norm.’

‘Spokespeople in well paid social sector jobs who have little understanding of the financial and personal pressures of people in business who are trying to do the very best for their employees, their families and eventually themselves provide no benefit whatsoever to their clients with their recent comments.’

Skills shortages in any industry naturally hit the smallest business first.  They have a diminished capacity to provide terms and conditions compared to their bigger business competition, as a result training new staff is a key ingredient in their daily business mix.  Recent changes to modern awards have led to employers changing their business model and approach.  Training has become an expensive luxury and many trade based businesses (the ones which employ apprentices) have decided that employee costs, employee attitudes and employment conditions are all increasingly leading them to contract the business, save on unnecessary expenses, gather their best staff around them and start trying to make some money and enjoy their business.

The misconception that just because a person is ‘in business’ they must be ‘raking it in’ is too often the catalyst for saying the business person must do more; because they can afford it.  Nothing can be further from the truth.

Small business people are often amongst the lowest earning income bracket.  They will often sacrifice personal benefits to be able to continue to employ staff because of the emotional strain and legislative barriers to dismissing them.  Yet non business institutions, including government, continue to view the business sector as little more than a cash cow and the training ground for the next batch of taxpayers.

Growing businesses need to employ staff.  They want to employ staff.  They need to employ motivated, engaged and intelligent staff and they are very happy to pay wages commensurate with the earning ability of the employee.  The real problem is that a significant amount of our home grown spare labour just really doesn’t want to engage.