This was revealed in the first quarter 2013 Business Partners Limited SME Index, which measures attitudes and confidence levels in the SME sector in South Africa.
- SMEs expressed confidence levels of 31% that the current labour laws are conducive to business growth
- This is a decrease in confidence levels of 2% since the last quarter.
Strikes could be to blame
According to Nazeem Martin, MD of Business Partners Limited, the drop in confidence levels is most likely related to the recent bout of strikes in South Africa’s labour market.
According to recent reports:
- 7 290 552 working hours were lost to illegal or unprotected strikes during 2012
- During 2012 a total of 99 strikes were recorded in the department strike data system
- Out of 99 strikes, 45 strikes were classified as unprotected or unprocedural.
Onerous legislation not helping
Martin says that in addition to the labour unrest, SMEs’ confidence levels are also influenced by the effort and cost to comply with South Africa’s very modern labour legislation, which is often out of reach for most SME owners.
“This legislation often inhibits SMEs from employing more people and, wherever possible, results in them mechanising instead.
“In relation to this, SMEs also expressed low confidence levels of 30% that government is doing enough to foster SME development in South Africa.”
Access to skilled staff declining
The BPLSI also highlighted the fact that SMEs have declining confidence levels with regards to finding staff that posses the correct skills set to facilitate business growth.
- SMEs expressed confidence levels of 49% that they will find staff with the right skills suited to their business
- This is a decrease of 5% in comparison to the last quarter.
Martin says that these low confidence levels can be attributed to the South African education system, at both secondary and tertiary levels, which business owners do not believe equips people with the necessary skills for the world of work – especially in a modern, technology driven work environment.
“Mathematical and literacy skills, as well as general business acumen, are the areas in which secondary and tertiary institutions will have to do much work to prepare people for gainful employment in the modern day work environment.”