The latest EMA Employers’ Survey puts the legalisation of cannabis at the top of the list of concerns for SMEs, with 73 per cent worried it will have a negative impact on their business.
Not surprisingly, trouble getting people with the right skills is next on the list and proving to be the greatest barrier to productivity.
EMA Chief Executive Brett O’Riley says that difficulties with immigration and a lack of confidence in the outcomes of the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) resulted in 70 per cent of respondents saying there already was or soon would be a skill shortage in their industry.
Forty-six per cent have recruited migrants over the past year to help fill this, and 80 per cent of those rate the immigration process as difficult or very difficult.
Forty-six per cent of members who responded to the survey are meeting their skills needs in the coming year by employing people with basic skills and upskilling them.
However, 48 per cent had no confidence that the Review of Vocational Education (RoVE) will help them secure the skills they need.
“There are processes, programmes and policy underway in immigration and education aimed at assisting with this, but it isn’t helping SMEs now and is actually threatening their viability,” says Mr O’Riley.
With regard to the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use, concerns of members are around the health and safety impacts in the workplace, and also employer liability.
“We believe legalisation would increase the risk in workplaces and our members are understandably worried,” says Mr O’Riley.
“Based on international evidence, our position is that until there is better testing in place and also a way to fund that in workplaces, it should not happen.”