Data. We hear repeatedly that data is critical to decision-making. This past week my company, Cynthia Kay and Company, partnered with the National Small Business Association on the 2017 Small Business Workforce and Labor Survey. I was particularly interested in sponsoring this survey because as the owner of a service business, my workforce is key to its success. And, we all know that there are a lot of challenges that we face that public policy and partnerships with educational institutions will either give us some relief or make it more difficult for us to be job creators. Here are just a few of the findings. The debate over immigration is likely to go on for some time. Some of the more notable data points in this survey have to do with the immigrant workforce. We found that more than one-in-three small employers hire some kind of immigrant worker: green-card holders, temporary foreign workers or VISA holders. Today people are worried about the viability of guest workers. The survey asked about hiring practices. Lots of small companies struggle with what they should require of potential employees including background checks. 71% of small-business owners ask potential employees about any past criminal convictions during the hiring process, and just under one-in-five small firms require credit checks and/or physicals. The number one reason for these checks and requirements: liability concerns. I know that I struggle to find workers that are educated and prepared to jump right in. And, nearly one-quarter of small-business owners agree with me and say that they believe the quality of high-school educated workers has gotten worse in the last five years. The number is a little better for college education but a majority say that college education is about the same and 16% say it is worse. It’s no wonder that one-third of small businesses pay for off-site training and one-fourth provide money toward employees’ continuing education. Employers big and small are trying to bridge the skills gap but for small businesses with limited dollars this can be burdensome. We asked about E-verify and found that most small firms support some kind of required use of an improved-E-Verify or similar system if it included a safe harbor clause for employers operating in good faith. As the author of Small Business for Big Thinkers I wanted to hear from others about supplier relationships and worked to help develop questions for this section of the survey. If your company, like mine works with larger firms there is some good data about how contracts are secured. Spoiler alert- it is through direct contact with the purchasing department – which takes a significant amount of time and investment. Among those who have taken supplier training programs, 40 percent said the program was offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). These are just a few of the highlights. I would encourage you to look at the survey and pass it on to others that might be interested.


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