But no matter what the size, all businesses face challenging problems and barriers, especially in employment. One size certainly does not fit all, something governments of all political persuasions fail to grasp.
The biggest barrier to employment is legislation, especially for small businesses – the SMEs in this country are responsible for 60% of jobs. That is a barrier that cannot be broken down, instead it has to be effectively managed.
Large businesses generally don’t break down barriers, they just accept and absorb them. But through sponsorship it can help others create opportunities to break down those barriers.
SMEs, on the other hand, innovate, adapt and learn to live with them. To use a cricket analogy, for instance, a sharply turning wicket or conditions that make a cricket ball swing are a barrier to scoring runs. You can’t change that, you can’t break down that barrier, you have to just adapt – as the Twenty20 format has shown.
So, from the employer’s side it just doesn’t get any easier. But what about the employees who are willing and wanting to work, but who face barriers? The disabled, single parents (male or female), refugees and those for whatever reason who need to work on a flexible basis to name but a few.
And what about disadvantaged young people? That’s where charities such as Leadership Through Sport & Business comes in, breaking down barriers thanks to sponsorship from big business. A mobility charity, it has prepared and supported disadvantaged young people into meaningful employment with major firms since 2012.
The charity works with major football club foundations including Aston Villa, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United to personally and professionally develop bright young people who would otherwise be lost to underemployment.
It then finds them roles in business and finance with leading firms such as Ernst & Young, Santander and Grant Thornton. Having helped hundreds of young people into work, Leadership Through Sport & Business’s 2018 intake of 90 brilliant young people are now looking for positions in London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.
This is something we should be very proud of and continue to promote as we head into 2019. With Brexit just around the corner, UK employment is more crucial than ever, and we should do everything in our power to open doors to new opportunities for those brimming with talent but who are not yet able to utilise them. Barriers are made to be broken after all, and we’re heading in the right direction to a future that offers inclusive employment.