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April 17, 2014

Also in the news this week – 17 April 2014

Lack of training threatens recovery

There has been a sharp drop in the provision of in-work training, causing a potential skills gap that threatens to hold back the recovery, according to new research. 
A survey by the Institute for Public Policy Research for the US bank JP Morgan has found that UK businesses suffered a drop in training four times greater than any other European country during the recession. And analysis by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills has found that only two in three employers provided any training at all, and that the annual total spent on training has fallen by £2.4bn since 2011. Pip Clarke, business development director at a&dc, said: "This research is concerning to say the least. Training and development is a key part of an employee's work cycle and directly impacts staff retention, motivation and a company's competitive advantage."

Freelancers object to "pyjama wearing" stereotype

Freelancers have said "pyjama wearing" is the most common stereotype they face in the workplace, according to a new survey by Crunch Accounting. 35% said this was the most common misconception, followed by the belief that "freelancing is a job for people who can't find full-time work" (27%) and "freelancing is a stop-gap to a full-time career" (20%). The latest ONS figures show that one-person businesses now account for 14.8% of the country's total workforce. The majority (59%) of freelancers said they would turn down a full-time, in-house position even if it came with a significant rise in pay.

HSBC announces £6bn growth fund for SMEs

HSBC is to make £6bn available to small and medium-sized businesses in a new growth fund that will be rolled out across the UK. The funding will be distributed locally through the bank's 52 business centres. It will be open to both new and established SMEs with turnover up to £30m. Amanda Murphy, head of business banking for HSBC, said: "We have put the funds into the hands of our local relationship managers to empower them to identify and work with ambitious companies in their area."

Retail footfall figures set to rise in April

The latest Retail Traffic Index figures from Ipsos Retail Performance show that the number of shoppers entering non-food retail stores across the UK in March rose by 4.5% compared to February. However, the year-on-year figure saw a decline in March, down 3.7% on last year. Dr Tim Denison, director at Ipsos Retail Performance, said: "Compared to last year, March 2014 has been low key." However, with Easter falling in March last year, Denison said there are high hopes for April. "Shoppers will be stepping out over Easter with more certainty and intent than they have done for a while. We forecast that footfall levels will be 4.1% higher over the holiday fortnight than they were last year."