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CBI director general John Cridland has called on employers to start paying workers more and said the large number of people on minimum wage jobs represents a “serious challenge” to businesses and Government, writes Tom Newcombe for HR Magazine.
In his new year’s message, Cridland said businesses should deliver “better pay and opportunities” as the economy improves in 2014.
He also called on employers to help stop rising youth unemployment levels by giving young people “a helping hand” into work.
“The recovery is taking root and business leaders have a spring in their step compared to this time last year, but this is no time to rest on our laurels,” Cridland said.
“As the financial situation of many firms begins to turn a corner, one of the biggest challenges facing businesses is to deliver growth that will mean better pay and more opportunities for all their employees after a prolonged squeeze.”
Cridland said he expects wages to start to improve in 2014, but warned more should be done to help hundreds of thousands of people “stuck in minimum wage jobs without routes to progressions”.
Skills and training
Cridland said the future success of the UK economy relies on producing higher-skilled workers, so training is “critical”.
“We need to widen the gateways into higher-skilled work for far more people, including those already working, or those for who a degree may not be the best option,” Cridland said. “Of course, that doesn’t mean the end of the traditional three-year degree and universities will continue to play an important role in delivering growth.
“However, at the moment, employers and potential students alike simply don’t have enough information on study options like higher apprenticeships and part-time higher education.”
The GMB, a general trade union that often lobbies on worker pay, agreed that more needed to be done to relieve the pay squeeze.
GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said: “Hard-pressed working people across the UK are struggling to pay their bills after years of wage declines and attacks on the living standards of families throughout the land. Working people deserve and need a decent pay rise to halt the drop in living standards.”

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