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‘New work’ SMEs drive productivity and growth

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Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UK continue to drive job growth, productivity and average wages in UK cities, according to new research by the think tank Centre for Cities.

Focusing on the creative, digital and professional industries, deemed ‘new work sectors’, SMEs have made a significant impact on the wider  economy of cities through increasing demand and jobs (new work) among sectors including service-based businesses, retail and leisure.

SMEs are creating new work at a faster rate than small businesses in traditional industries such as manufacturing and construction.

The research finds that between 2008-2014:

  • SMEs in the creative sector rose by 25% while numbers in professional sectors increased by 17%
  • employment rose by 22% in creative industries and by 11% in professional industries
  • SMEs in manufacturing increased by 2% while numbers in construction fell by 8%
  • employment also fell by 3% in manufacturing and 14% in construction.

Alexandra Jones, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said:

“This report highlights that the world of work is changing, with big implications for how we support and grow our cities and the national economy.

“The government needs to give cities greater control skills, infrastructure and spending to help them become more responsive to the needs of local businesses. The government’s plan to let local governments keep business rates is a welcome step towards giving cities more of the tools and flexibility they need.”

Jason Eatock, Head of SME at the insurance group Zurich, said:

“We should all look to support these SMEs across the UK, whether we are local government or big business. Small businesses are driving productivity and creating employment for their surrounding communities – as shown by the 22 per cent rise in employment within these ‘new work’ industries.”

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