SME news in brief: apprenticeships, late payments, HR, IT, training

SME news in brief
SME news in brief

Young apprentices no longer cost employers NI contributions

As of 6 April 2016, employers of young apprentices are no longer required to pay National Insurance contributions for apprentices under 25 years of age. This exemption will apply to both existing employers with apprentices and those taking on a new apprentice.

Skills Minister Nick Boles said: “We’re making it even better value for businesses to take on a young apprentice. Businesses will no longer need to pay National Insurance contributions for apprentices under 25.

“Apprenticeships make sense for young people and for business. If you’re an employer not already reaping the benefits, now is the time to act.”

Solving late payments is key to helping SMEs prosper

Around 48% of UK SMEs are frustrated with delayed payments reaching their business bank accounts. This is according to an online survey from YouGov and ACI Worldwide.

Commenting on the research, Worldpay MD Dave Hobday said that SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy and we need to solve the issue of late payments to help them prosper.

He continued: “The demands of running a small business are tough enough without the added headache of chasing for unsettled invoices that effects cash flow, stunts growth and ultimately jeopardises the existence of some businesses.

“Our research found a staggering 75% of UK sole traders and microbusinesses have experienced late payments, that’s why using mobile payments solutions such as Worldpay Zinc can help, by allowing payments to be taken immediately. By embracing technology, SMEs can maximise the ways in which they can collect payments helping address some of the issues they face.”

SMEs less likely to carry out risk assessments for employees in high risk areas

Larger corporates are twice more likely than SMEs (53% compared to 25%) to say that they conduct risk assessments for employees travelling abroad if the area in question is deemed high risk.

The latest research from Collinson Group asked if their business has a corporate travel risk partner in place in addition to a travel management company (TMC) - the research found that one in 10 of larger corporates and one in 20 SME’s did not. Furthermore, a quarter (25%) of larger corporates and just under a third (31%) of SMEs reported that they did not have a risk management strategy contained within their own corporate travel policy.

In terms of pre-travel briefings under half (47%) of HR professionals at larger corporates said they ensure employees are issued with company guidelines with regards to safety and security when travelling on business, reducing to 40% for SMEs.

IT staff lacking technical training opportunities

More than one-third (36%) of IT professionals in the UK have not received any technical training through their employer in the last three years.

According to new research by freelance website Upwork, this is despite 97% stating that training in the latest technical skills is essential for them to do their job effectively.

The benefits of a workforce with up-to-date skills is also recognised by 95% of IT managers. However, they face a number of challenges when it comes to employee training. Other challenges include budget restrictions (49%), time limitations (44%) and prioritising other business responsibilities (33%), which all hold back training efforts.