Innovative SMEs helping create jobs in challenging labor market

Innovative SMEs helping create jobs in challenging labor market

The few job opportunities that have been arising in Greece since the start of the crisis are increasingly with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are oriented toward exports and innovation, a study by National Bank has found.

A total of 57 percent of jobs in Greece are with SMEs, against a European Union average of 33 percent, and, based on a sample of 1,200 such businesses in this country, it emerges that – after the 26 percent slide in employment from 2007 to 2012 – SMEs are starting to hire again.

According to the study, employment per business rose by an average of 3 percent from 2012 to 2015.

The rebound in employment in this area is expected to continue, with 18 percent of SMEs saying that they are planning to hire people in the second half of this year, against just 11 percent who expect a reduction in jobs.

However, the report notes, this increase in jobs mainly concerns SMEs that are export-oriented or rely on innovation.

These businesses represent 40 percent of Greek SMEs in 2016 compared to 30 percent in 2013.

In fact, average employment in this dynamic group of businesses has risen by around 25 percent over the past three years, as traditional SMEs have remained more or less stagnant.

The National Bank study estimates that export-oriented and innovation-based businesses will continue to form a pillar of growth next year, as 50 percent of such enterprises said they are planning to increase their work force, against just 14 percent for conventional SMEs.

The bank, however, warns that two-thirds of the dynamic SMEs that took part in the study said that they have observed a lack of expertise in their staff (double the rate at traditional businesses), indicating that a shortage of skilled workers may work against these enterprising businesses in such a competitive global environment.

The respondents said that the greatest weakness of their staff was their level of computer training (29 percent), followed by a lack of specialized skills (27 percent) and sales abilities (20 percent).

As far as payroll costs are concerned, respondents reported a slight rise of 3 percent over the past three years, against a drop of 47 percent in the 2007-12 period.

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